When it comes to predicting what kind of test Pools are in for when they host Middlesbrough’s Under-23 side at The Vic, few are more qualified than Assistant Manager Paul Jenkins.
Jenkins spent over twenty years nurturing the young talent coming off the conveyor belt at Boro’s renowned Academy before leaving the Club at the end of last season.
Therefore, he knows well the majority of those who will wear red at The Vic on Friday evening and he reckons that it should be an entertaining and productive encounter for both sides.
“There is a talented group of players there that I left and the most pleasing aspect from my point of view is that there are three or four of them had a lot of First Team game time this pre-season,” Jenkins told us.
“They have had a few struggles with numbers during pre-season as they have had a few injuries and players playing up but as for the technical side of their game, they will be strong.
“From our perspective, we have got to have our own game plan. We are still in pre-season and still looking at different options of how we are going to play the game as well.”
Jenkins has admitted that it will be good to catch up with a few familiar faces on Friday evening but his priority will be to ensure that the Pools players get what they need from the latest friendly run-out.
“I am a professional and my club is now Hartlepool. This is a massive opportunity for me and a massive step up as far as my role goes.
“I am a Middlesbrough lad and Middlesbrough will always be the team I will support but now my job is Assistant Manager at Hartlepool United and I will be doing everything I can to help us win the game.
“It will be strange to be sitting in the opposite dugout but that is life in professional football. Very few people in the game serve only one club and I am no exception to that now.
“I am really looking forward to the game and seeing that players again. I didn’t get chance to say my goodbyes so that will be good and there are some fantastic staff at Middlesbrough too so I am looking forward to seeing them. I have some old friends there and I am looking forward to it.
“But as soon as the game kicks off, I will be making sure we win the game and hopefully win it well.”
Jenkins has thrived on getting back on the training ground with Pools since being appointed as Craig Harrison’s right-hand man earlier in the month.
The vastly-experienced coach has been able to get his teeth in to the project straight away and is thrilled with the way the squad have reacted to the work they’ve been doing.
“I’m absolutely delighted with things so far,” he insisted.
“The players have really responded to us and the staff and everybody at the Club have been fantastic. They have all made me feel really welcome and I already feel part of Hartlepool United.
“Craig and I and the staff really want to develop something at this Football Club, to try and create a legacy. Hartlepool United haven’t had that for the last couple of years but we want to try and develop something that we can look back on and be proud of.”