HARTLEPOOL United manager Paul Hartley feels comfortable in the knowledge that his players have taken on board his message heading into the first game of the season.

Pools signed off pre-season with a 1-1 draw against Sunderland. Ellis Taylor put the ball through his own net to hand Pools the lead before Elliot Embleton scored from the penalty spot. Now,

Hartley’s side had to ride the storm at times but gave a good account of themselves with just five days from the beginning of the season where it begins away to Walsall.

The manager said: “It was a tough game. I felt the first half they moved us about the pitch. We had a good start to the game within a couple of minutes with Hastie getting in down the side. He puts a dangerous ball into the box.

“After that, I felt we had to defend at times. I thought we were a little bit careless in our passing.

“Not enough quality in the first half but the second half, it was a lot better. We had to make seven changes so I didn’t want to give too much away for the game at the weekend.

 “Overall, I think it’s been a good pre-season and it’s been tough. We’ve faced some good teams and we’ve managed to come out of it with reasonable success.”

It’s been a whirlwind number of weeks for Hartley who has had to contend with assembling a squad, dealing with departures and get his players physically up to scratch in a short space of time.

However, he’s happy in the knowledge that his players head to Walsall on Saturday in good nick for their League Two opener.

Asked whether he was satisfied with the players response to him in pre-season, he said: “Really happy. It’s been five weeks since we came in and the hard work started. Obviously a lot of chances within that period with players coming in and going out so it was never going to be an easy transition.

“I feel that the work is getting there but now the real stuff starts on Saturday.

“I don’t particularly like pre-season games to be honest with you. I think it can be false. Now the work starts and how can we go and win on Saturday.”