Matthew Bates has insisted that his mind is not made up over selection for the first day of the new campaign after Pools kept up their unbeaten pre-season record with victory at Spennymoor Town.
Luke James claimed the only goal of the game at the Brewery Field on Saturday as Bates’ men produced another encouraging performance against the National League North outfit.
An impressive summer recruitment drive has seen nine new faces arrive at Victoria Park and provide Bates with real competition for places as the big kick-off moves within a fortnight.
The Pools boss has revealed that he is still undecided on the starting eleven that will take to the field at Maidstone United on the opening day and has challenged the players to make those decisions even more difficult for him.
“It was a good game for the lads to be involved in on Saturday because it’s as near as we’re going to get to what games will be like in the new season,” Bates told Pools PlayerHD.
“I was pleased, particularly with the first half because I didn’t really think we got out of the blocks in the second half and we stopped doing what we’d been doing but overall I was happy.
“It was a proper football match with a bit of needle, which is always good because it adds to it and as far as pre-season friendlies go it was as realistic as you’ll get.
“We had a conversation with the lads this week to let them know the team isn’t picked for the first game of the season yet – there are eleven shirts up for grabs and they have to work hard to get them.
“I have no loyalty to who I have signed or the lads who have been here before, that’s just the way it has to be – you work hard, you play well and you stay in the team.”