Matthew Bates has revealed that his preparations for next season are well underway – with the Pools boss starting work before he even knew he had the role.

The 31-year-old, currently away on a pre-planned break, was only appointed to the post on Friday last week. But he says work to get the lads ready for next season – whether he was in the job or not – started even before the final game of Hartlepool United’s National League season.

Mentally, that was not easy for the then caretaker, but at least he now has a head start in what is set to be one of the busiest summers in the club’s history.

“It was hard,” Bates said of potentially doing the groundwork for another candidate for the job. “I had to try and make sure that I was leaving the club in the best place I could, whether that was me getting the job or someone else.

“We made sure there was all the relevant testing going on with the lads – body fats, fitness – that’s all for pre-season. The way I looked at it was if it is me then good, if not I can walk away with my head held high.”

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