COMPETITION is bringing out the good side of Hartlepool United.

Pools are five unbeaten ahead of Saturday’s game at Dagenham and boss Craig Hignett watched as his team put four past Carlisle in a midweek friendly.

Nicke Kabamaba, back from an ankle injury, scored a hat-trick against the Cumbrians.

“If we play to the best of our abilities we will win games and more than we lose,’’ said Hignett.

“Sprit is good, but it’s hard with a squad like this – to keep everyone happy who isn’t playing in the first team. Those in the stands, they are the ones to keep happy who dictate how spirit is.

“I think competition for places comes into it, if people aren’t buying into it then I can afford to say ‘see you later’.

“I want them to be disappointed when they aren’t playing, but then show me when they get the chance.

“We played Carlisle the other day and players showed me they should be in the team. I need players to be ready when they get a chance and everyone realises it – training and practice games have had standards go up.

“Show me how much you want to be in. Josh Hawkes was sat it the stand lately and then he played against Carlisle and put a marker down and showed me he wants to be in the team.

“Nicke Kabamaba scored a hat-trick and gave me a problem.

“We have a strong squad and players have been injured, but coming back. I’ve got problems selection-wise in leaving people out who should be in week in, week out. It keeps everyone on their toes.’’

Niko Muir has trained today after playing 20 minutes on Tuesday, while only Luke Williams (knee), Luke Molyneux (ankle) and Myles Anderson (concussion) remain on the sidelines.

Hignett added: “I told Niko to go and have a blast and see how we went, but he will be ok. Everyone else is fine. Myles is still a little groggy after a whack and concussion protocols have to be followed. He doesn’t feel right in himself still.

“Luke and Luke are in rehab – a long road for Molyneux as he’s still on crutches for six weeks and Williams is closer, a couple of weeks before he can get away again.

“Dagenham are six unbeaten, they look confident and look organised which you expect from a Peter Taylor side. We look like scoring in every game and look like scoring more than one. We expect to play well.’’