Matthew Bates has urged his players to go out and express themselves when the new National League season gets underway with a trip to Maidstone United on Saturday.
The Pools boss is looking forward to taking charge of his first competitive game since being appointed to the role on a permanent basis when he leads Pools to Kent this weekend.
After an eye-catching summer in the transfer market and an encouraging pre-season campaign, Bates knows he has a real task in front of him when it comes to selecting his opening starting eleven.
And while he is aware that knowledge of opponents is crucial at any level of football, he is adamant that the players must focus most of their attention on their own performances this season.
“We’re well-prepared, we’re raring to go and we’re excited,” Bates told Pools PlayerHD.
“It’s been a hard six weeks but it’s been the right amount of work – we’ve got a fully-fit squad to choose from on Saturday so overall it’s been a good pre-season, it couldn’t have gone any better.
“I’ve got some difficult decisions to make because there’s not one of the group who hasn’t done well – we’ve got a good squad, a strong squad and I want it to be about what we do this season.
“I don’t want to over-complicate things in terms of the opposition – as long as we get our principles, our philosophies and our style of play across in games then we’ll be fine.
“There will be no such thing as favourites in my eyes; I will pick the squad based on what I feel is right for the football side.
“The lads that are left out can’t sulk or feel sorry for themselves – they know that. It will be about getting their heads down and working hard to get the shirt back.
“On the flip side of it, the lads who are in the team have to play well to keep the shirt and that’s the competition we want.
“I’ve said it before but I will forgive anything apart from a lack of hard work.
“Players are going have bad games or bad moments in games but as long as they keep going, as long they keep doing what we’ve asked of them in training then I will forgive anything.”