JAKE CASSIDY admits he is happy to be away from Hartlepool United, who he describes as a “negative club”.

The striker has returned to Maidstone on loan for rest of the season, after briefly returning to Pools after four months in Kent earlier in the campaign.

He returned to Pools under duress, and won’t be back at the club with his two-year deal expiring in the summer.

Boss Craig Hignett was willing to allow the striker, one of the club’s high earners to leave, after a somewhat underwhelming time at Pools.

“Jake has gone, he won’t be coming back now. Jake came back, but then expressed a desire to leave and we wouldn’t strand in his way – we don’t want players who don’t want to be here. They wanted him back, we were more than happy to let him go,’’ said Hignett.

Previous boss Richard Money spoke of the negativity surrounding the club, but Hignett admitted he wants players who are willing and able to come through the criticism, stand up and show what they are capable of, rather than crumble and bail out .

“It’s been touched on before a bit,’’ said the manager. “For a player to come out and say it, you either go one or two ways – you get your head down, work hard and get on with it to turn it around or you fold and want to leave.

“Jake wanted to leave and we now have players who want to fight and battle and we have players here now who want that.

“It happens at every club, Boro have it going on now. The only way to change it is by winning games and as long as fans see players giving their all and putting everything in then they will accept it.

“For me, as a manager, that should be a given. Show those qualities every time you play, regardless of the game.

“You expect everyone to work hard, be committed, to run and if fans think it’s not happening then it will show everyone. It’s at every club, but it’s a minority of them who are overly-critical.’’

The home supporters appeared to have heeded Money’s words and were patient and understanding in their last encounter, as they struggled in the first-half against Braintree before turning the game around.

And Hignett said: “I think our last home game showed that if you are willing to try then the fans will stick with you. A flat first-half and the crowd could have turned, but they stuck with us. We turned it around, had a right go and the fans appreciated it.

“As long as they see it happening then it’s not a problem. Sometimes it seems players are not trying, not willing to express themselves and be hiding – that’s when you get the problems and Jake has experienced some of those problems.

“We try and build a team spirit, you want a solid dressing room with no cliques.

“I’ve had it before, I might have someone who will help me out if I{m having a bad game – if your mate is having a bad time then go and help them out.’’

Hignett is hoping his players, who still sit in the wrong half of the table ahead of taking on leaders Leyton Orient at the Super 6 Stadium tomorrow, will be united in the coming weeks.

“Team spirit is massive at this level and I’d much rather have good characters and good pros and sacrifice a little bit of quality, because it’s about spirit and unity,’’ he reflected.

“There’s players in this league who should be playing higher, but they aren’t because of their character. We are going for characters, for people who are good professionals who want to work hard.

“It might be a squad game and I don’t want people sulking when they are left out, not sulking.

Cassidy moved to Pools under former boss Craig Harrison in 2016, but suffered injuries last season and leaves having scored only seven times in 43 games for the club.

After signing for the Stones again he said of Pools: "I don't think they're good to many people, to be fair.

"If it's not going well it's a bit poisonous. That's the stigma around the club. It's just a negative club.

"A lot of people from the club have come out saying that and I don't think it's something that's going to change, unless they get promoted, which they're not going to do this year.

"I don't listen too much to what the fans think but there's a lot of players who do go under once it turns and it's a shame for the club because there's some good players who aren't fulfilling their potential because they're getting slated every week."

Cassidy added: "I felt comfortable at Maidstone.

“Everyone was very welcoming, from the chairman to the fans, and it just felt like a club I wanted to be at and where I was performing.

"You've seen for yourself with Hartlepool, the negativity and everything around it. It was just nice for me to get away.

"I've only got six months left on my contract at Hartlepool and I'm not going to get a new one there so I thought I just need to get out and play and get in the shop window again.’’