Craig Hignett returns with another update for supporters as he reflects on pre-season, reveals news of another friendly and confirms the Club Captain for 2019/20.
Hello everyone and welcome to my latest Blog here on the Official Website.
I think it's fair to say that things are shaping up quite well ahead of the upcoming season now. We have got one or two niggles but nothing too major so I am pleased with the way that pre-season has gone overall.
We have got a bonus game in the pre-season schedule planned in for Monday now when we'll take on Sunderland in a behind-closed-doors fixture up at the Academy of Light.
I say it's a bonus because that will allow me to split the squad and give every player ninety minutes on the pitch over the course of Saturday and Monday's games, which is perfect really with just a week to go until the season starting.
I have been told that Sunderland are going to be putting out a fairly strong team on Monday too so it will be a good challenge for us and it's brilliant timing because if we can get a full game in to all to the lads then they'll be fresh and ready for next Saturday.
I think once we get Saturday and Monday done and dusted the excitement will really start to build for next weekend. We've already started gathering reports on Sutton United and how we think they're going to play and we know what we're going to do so it will all get more exciting from Tuesday onwards.
I am happy to confirm that Ryan Donaldson will continue as the Club Captain in to the 2019/20 campaign. He's had a bit of a tough time over pre-season and has some catching up to do but he showed last year he was a good skipper.
I think it was a role which has a positive impact on him last season when he took it on – he took to the responsibility really well and his performances improved too. Maybe it just matured him a little more too so I think he was an obvious choice once again this season and didn't see any reason to change it.
The other factor which made that choice easy is that we have so many leaders in the squad now who will be captains on the pitch whether they're wearing the armband or not. The likes of Michael Raynes and Gus Mafuta have come in to add to the experience of the likes of Nicky Featherstone and Liam Noble. I think we have a good blend of youth and then players who know what it's all about.
Talking of experience, it's been lovely to see big Dimi Konstantopoulos join us in training this week. I played with Dimi back in 2007 here at Hartlepool and then obviously he was at Boro when I went there as Assistant Manager too so I know him really well.
He's a great lad and when he phoned me to ask if he could train with us while he gets things sorted I was only too happy to say yes to him. I'm sure he will have a positive impact on the other keepers in the group given the career he's had so far and the level he's played at so hopefully he can pass on a few tips to them during the time he's here.
Anyway, that's all for this afternoon's update but hopefully as many of you as possible can come along and enjoy Saturday's game against Macclesfield Town with us. I'll see you there.
Have a great weekend.