NICKY Featherstone is reaping the rewards of a change in lifestyle, as he enjoys a positive spell for form.

The Hartlepool United midfielder was an unlikely two-goal hero as Pools saw off Notts County at Victoria Park on Saturday.

He’s been a mainstay of the side under Dave Challinor, with the Pools boss hailing his midfield influence.

Featherstone started the season out of the side. He signed for Pools in November 2014 and has been a regular under eight different managers.

While Craig Hignett was a big fan of the 31-year-old, under Challinor of late he has flourished and won over the sceptical support.

Challinor admitted: “We’ve asked them to do certain things and the way Feaths is on the eye, people look at what he doesn’t do. He’s changed his diet, a lifestyle change for him, and that’s nothing down to us.

“It’s something you look at when you get older to see if things work and it has for him. Of all the players in the team I can pass the ball to him with a player up his backside and he will keep the ball and give it to a teammate.

“In terms of intensity and fitness, he is responsible. The players have to run with it and he is a shining example to the rest of the squad. You have to play at it and commit to something. We are all reaping the rewards and he is integral to the squad and we want to keep him and we are on the front foot in saying we want him here. In the past he has been hanging on to see if he is still required and if an upgrade is out there.

“Hopefully he continues to perform at the consistent level he has.’’

Pools have won four successive home games, and go to Boreham Wood on Saturday after rare back to back victories.

Three members of the back four are on loan and, since Ben Killip was recalled two games ago, Pools have yet to concede.

But Challinor insisted the credit for the shut-outs should be spread around: “Defending is more than the goalkeeper and back four. The pressure we have got on at the top end of the pitch and midfield has an impact at the back end.

“Saturday was a comfortable one for Ben, one or two saves and it was about concentration. It’s down to pressure form higher up, defenders are being called upon less often.

“You need a bit of luck, but momentum builds. We are playing with a belief, they are not scared to take the ball in risky areas, but willing to give the ball to people under pressure and if they lose it then we are good enough to handle that.

“We have been in front in the early part of the season and not won and it’s easy to point the finger at the defenders. I want us to attack and defend as a team and I think we are doing it brilliantly.’’