CRAIG HIGNETT is certain that Padraig Amond could play at the very highest level.

The Hartlepool United boss signed the striker at Victoria Park in 2016, with Amond netting 15 times in his one season with the club.

Hignett didn’t see that campaign out as he was dumped in January 2017, while Amond departed in the August after Pools were relegated from the Football League.

Before moving to Pools, Amond scored 42 times for Grimsby in the National league. Now with Newport, the Irishman dumped Middlesbrough out of the FA Cup in midweek with a neat finish – his 18th goal of the season.

He’s scored in all four rounds of the competition so far this season and he has the chance to carry on that run against Man City in the next round.

Hignett is back in charge of Pools, they take on Orient at the Super 6 Stadium today, and understands why his former striker is attracting plenty of attention.

“I can't really say what happened when I he left here because there were conflicting reports – but what I can say is Padraig is one of the nicest lads you'll ever meet in your life,’’ he said.

“A great pro, he scores goals, another who I keep in touch with. He has had a great season.

“I am made up for him - the goal he scored against Boro was top drawer.

“Podge is a player who could play higher and I think a few are looking at him because what he does is week-in, week-out scores goals and works hard.

“The move to Newport, it hasn't surprised me he has done so well.

“He knows what he is doing in the box - they are worth their weight in gold. We would kill for a striker like that.’’

Hignett feels that a player with a scoring record as positive as Amond’s could adapt to life at the top level, citing Brighton’s Glenn Murray as a perfect example.

After starting out at Carlisle, Murray’s travels took him to Stockport and Rochdale before someone higher up took a chance on him – and now he’s a regular Premier League scorer.

Hignett added: “Podge is a goalscorer, keeps the ball well but people will look at what he can't do.

“If you score goals it doesn't matter what level, if you are clever and know what you are doing, you score goals at any level.

“He would maybe need a little more sharpness in the Premier League but just look at Glenn Murray - he scores goals and if you score goals, you score goals. I hope he gets a crack at it higher up, hopefully the Championship.’’

Pools have gone two weeks without a game and Hignett’s training plans have been disrupted by the weather.

But the extra time could work in the favour of Carl Magnay and Liam Noble, with both in contention to be back this afternoon.

“We had a good result last time out, and we have had a game called off which means another long trip to fit in midweek, so last week being off was a hindrance,’’ said Hignett.

“Carl trained at the back end of last week, so he would have been touch and go for last week’s game. So now we will see if he’s OK for this week.

“Liam Noble is the same, he could have a chance for this weekend.

“That’s the only positive from the last week. We’ve not been able to train on grass, because of the weather so it’s been a mix and match week.

“When we have been able to train on the 3G pitch we have had some good stuff done and we have some good facilities at East Durham College.

“The problem with a 3G pitch is that some players don’t like it and it affects their joints, but we have to get on with it.’’

Today’s opponents were relegated along with Pools in May 2017, and after an indifferent last season, have set the standards this time around.

They top the table and look strong contenders for a return to League Two.

“Orient have been consistent over the season and Justin Edinburgh has done a good job. It’s a good test, but one which we shouldn’t be afraid of,’’ said Hignett.

“We were both in the Football League not too long ago, they have really turned it around. They are a wealthy club now, but it’s taken some turning around. They play ion the right way and it will be a good test for us.

“Their budget is slightly bigger than ours! We need to be more methodical than bringing a whole new batch of players in, but as long as the ones we bring in are better than the ones we replaced then we are getting somewhere.

“It can take time, but the chairman is ambitious, and we all are and we all want the club back in the Football League as quick as we can. If it’s not this year, then be in and around it next year and then if not the year after for certain.

“But we have a plan, it won’t happen overnight and I’m confident we will get there.’’