CRAIG HARRISON, while still looking to add to his squad, is happy to have a youthful feel to his options.

The Hartlepool United boss takes his side to Maidenhead today, for a 12.30 kick-off in a game televised on BT Sports.

And, amid a busy start to the season – Tuesday’s home game with Chester will be their fourth game in ten days – Harrison admits the energy and character he wants is emphasised by a younger breed of players.

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Gone are the days of expensive older signings who failed – Nobby Solano and Steve Howard were big disappointments in recent years.

And instead, Harrison wants a young, hungry squad at his disposal.

“We have a young team - this was by design,’’ he said. “I prefer that for the athleticism and energy that brings.

“It is better that way than having to manage older experienced players who might only give you 25 games.

“I would think 90 per cent of our squad will play 40-50 games, which is what we will need because this season will be a long old slog.’’

Pools started last weekend with a defeat at home to Dover, before showing improvement in the midweek draw at Macclesfield.

That performance impressed the boss and he sees the team improving as the games go on.

He said: “It is taking people to time to settle but that is not an excuse.

“The facts are that we have new players but they are good enough, so if the results aren't right we can't hide behind that.

“What I can see is improvement week on week.

“We have played four different formations in the two games. The players have been adaptable.

“It is not something we want to do all the time but we have to flexible tactically. The players have been excellent.’’

Two divisions separated today’s teams last season, Maidenhead promoted from Conference South.

They are managed by former West Ham and England winger Alan Devonshire.

“It is always nice to do new things, play at new grounds, play against new players,’’ added Harrison of Pools’ new adventure.

“We want to challenge ourselves and we are looking forward to it.

“From a management perspective I love it - going back to my TNS days, when we were in Europe it was exciting pitting your wits against different coaches.

“Their manager has a lot of experience.

“We have had their last three games watched so we will be taking it all on board.

“I know enough about them to try and isolate their weak points and put our gameplan together.

“Hopefully we can play 90 minutes like we did on Tuesday and I don't think many teams will be able to live with us at this level.’’

Of Tuesday’s performance, the point coming thanks to Jake Cassidy’s second-half header, Harrison said: “If you take the result in isolation I think it is a good result.

“It was important that we got something out of the game after the defeat at the weekend.

“It was a good point away from home - the last four years they have been in the top eight and have made it to cup finals.

“In recent history they are a real top third team in the National League.’’

He added: “Coming from a goal down pleased me, we are building momentum.

“We have got a new squad here with only a few players here from last season.

“We are still finding out things about each other.

“It was good to hear the lads getting vocal, putting their heads together in the dressing room at half time. They went out and won the second half. They showed character, which was good to see.

The encouragement can't always come from the manager.’’