After six months with Hartlepool United, Jamie Sterry says 2021 has been his 'most enjoyable year by far’ with the club. 

The Pools full-back has been crucial to the club’s success this season featuring 29 times since joining until the end of the season in December from Northern Premier League side South Shields, which is the most he’s featured for a club during his professional career.

The 25-year-old former Newcastle United defender documented his struggles during his playing career in a wide ranging interview with The Athletic speaking about his release from St James’ Park, his various loan spells and his struggles with his mental health.

However, as Pools aim for a climatic end to their season with a return to the Football League in Sunday’s play-off final against Torquay United, Sterry admits he’s loved his time playing a pivotal role at right wing-back.

“I haven’t really played at wing-back much until I’ve come here this season” Sterry admits after Sunday’s win over Stockport County.

“Normally I’m like ‘we defend and when I can get forward, I’ll get forward’ but it’s been really good to play higher up the pitch.

“I played a little bit there at Newcastle when Rafa (Benitez) was the manager but to be able to have that little bit of space and time and make the runs forward is a hard position to play you’ve got to be really fit to get up and down there.

“I think it took me about 10 games to get back fit because I had no pre-season. I trained with my dad and one of the lads from Newcastle and it’s tough just training on your own for so long.

“Coming in here, I only trained one day and then I played against Stockport at home but I’ve got my fitness up. I’m probably the fittest I’ve been in my career. This is the most enjoyable year I’ve had by far.

“My baby, doing well and getting to the final now and playing games is the biggest part of it.

“My Mrs has been tremendous. I’ve done three nights in and he’s 11 weeks old.

“She’s done everything. She’s been really good.”

Preparations for Sunday’s huge game down at Ashton Gate are well underway as the Pools squad returns to training for their biggest game of the season.

Dave Challinor’s side celebrated beating Bromley and Stockport County as they booked their place in the final in Bristol.

For Sterry, his mindset is already on Sunday’s 2pm kick off.

“You’ve got to enjoy the highs when they are around but you can’t take it over the top” says Sterry.

“The lads are celebrating in there but I’m thinking ‘we haven’t won anything yet’.

“You do have to enjoy it when it does come around. It’s such a good group in that dressing room. I couldn’t tell you one bad egg who is in there. We just stick together and it shows out on the pitch, on the training pitch, in the dressing room. We just demand more of each other.

“It’s what we’ve worked so hard for. From me coming in since December, you can’t even put into words how you feel.

“The feeling is what you dream of but we haven’t won nothing yet so we go again this week.

“We’ve done the work to get here so we should believe in ourselves to win next week.

“Especially with the game down at Torquay, I know that means nothing but, that just gives you that little bit of confidence you can go there and beat them.”