THREE wins in a row, and Hartlepool United will only get better according to Craig Hignett.

The Pools boss has overseen nine points from nine – including two on the road in the last seven days. This evening, they take on joint leaders Woking at Victoria Park.

Hignett’s summer recruitment was not only about ability, but character was just as vital.

The Pools boss did his homework on each potential signing to make sure they would fit into his dressing room.

And now, he feels the benefits are being felt.

“We’ve had a long week, but we’ve got a really good team spirit and that was the case from the off. But when you are winning games then it brings people closer together and unites everyone, solidifies things,’’ he admitted.

“The important ones for me are those on the bench, there’s people out of this team who would get in most teams in the division. They are the hard ones to consider for me.

“As long as they understand the situation and why they are out and they are willing to work hard and try and force their way back in, they are so important.’’

While players, mainly attackers, have been out and returned to action or still sidelined this season, Hignett gets the benefits of the professional outlook of his players.

Ryan Donaldson missed pre-season, came back and played three games in a week before being rested.

Back in the side, he netted the winner at Barrow on Tuesday.

Jason Kennedy started the season, then was on the bench, but has been a mainstay in the victories, as he scored his first goal for the club at Torquay last weekend.

The manager’s comments last month about players looking after themselves while injured wasn’t a dig at anyone, more advice to be heeded. Now there’s positive examples to show the benefits of a professional outlook.

Hignett added: “The last few games, we have made changes and won games from the bench. Ryan came on at Torquay, made a difference and he helped us win the game.

“At Barrow, Gime (Toure) had run his race and did his job and then we put Nicke (Kabamba) on and he put himself about and made it hard for their centre-halves to stop them building attacks.

“Now we are in a situation, the last two or three games, when we can put a sub on to change it. Before we were making subs to block holes and cover injuries.

“Josh Hawkes is available again and he was disappointed not to be involved at Barrow, but he’s not quite there yet. I gave him minutes against Wrexham and you could see he was off the pace.

“I’ve said to him he needs to do what Ryan did at Torquay and what Nicke did at Barrow – when the chances come, and they will, then they have to be ready for it. Get your head down and work hard and that’s what Jason Kennedy has done.

“He was in, then sat out, but he’s been superb the last three games. He’s such a good pro that he gets on with it, no problem at all, and when he gets a chance he takes it. Scored at Torquay and second half on Tuesday he was immense.

“Look at him at the example – that’s how you do it.’’

Tonight’s opposition sit joint top after nine games, buoyant on the back of last season’s promotion.

They have won four away games so far.

But Hignett said: “We are a team who are hard to beat – a different way of playing and a different message. We have had a shift in mentality and can see it. Players have been disciplined and we are getting better in how we play.

“Teams can have a lot of the ball but as long as we are disciplined we can win games. We dominated games last season and got beat, now we can let teams dominate games and beat them.

“We had a dodgy start, but results now mean we haven’t done badly. We are in a good position and there’s room for improvement.’’