Date: 20th October 2006 at 4:59pm
Written by:

Chester City take on Hartlepool United at the Saunders Honda Stadium tonight. In build up the big game in League Two, we take a closer look at the opposition, player by player…

Dimitrios Konstantopoulos
Dimi has become a huge favourite with the fans at Victoria Park after producing some outstanding goalkeeping displays over the last couple of seasons. The big keeper has now firmly established himself as the Club`s number one and his impressive performances have earned him many admirers. The former Greece Under 21 international is commanding in his area, his kicking is very strong and he is renowned as a fine shot stopper. After an outstanding 2004/05 season for Pools, the big keeper cemented his reputation last term with some vital saves and was one of the more solid performers in what was a tough campaign.

Jim Provett
Jim enjoyed a remarkable 2003/2004 campaign when he was thrust in to the number one spot and made the shirt his own. At the end of his first full season in the First Team he scooped both the Players` and the Fans` Player of the year Awards. However, after losing his place to Dimitrios Konstantopoulos in the 2004/05 season, Jim has failed to reclaim the top spot and has been a regular for the Reserve Team. The Trimdon-born keeper is known for his hard work and good attitude and has vowed to stay at Victoria Park and fight for his place. He is always very vocal on the pitch and is a good organiser of the defence. Jim will be looking to push Dimi all the way for the number one spot this season.

Tony Davison
Tony joined Pools at Under 16 level after being released by Sunderland and the young keeper has impressed during his two-year spell with at the Club. He signed his first professional contract in the summer and is very highly rated by the Club. Tony enjoyed games at Reserve Team level last season and even found himself named as a substitute for the First Team game at Southend United last term. One game which will probably stand out for Tony from last season is the Youth Team`s 10-0 win over Lincoln City at The Vic – probably the youngster`s quietest game at Pools. With both Jim Provett and Dimi Konstantopoulos ahead of him at the moment, the youngster has targeted a regular spot in the Reserve Team as his first target of the season.

Micky Barron
Experienced professional Micky is the Club`s longest-serving player who enjoyed his testimonial year last season, culminating in a celebration game against Leeds United.
The Club Captain has been with Pools since 1996 when he joined at the end of a successful loan spell. Despite beginning as a centre-back, Barron is now an established right-back and gives his all for the cause. He has struggled with injuries for the last couple of seasons, making only fifteen First Team appearances last term. Micky returned to action towards the back of last season but missed the end of the campaign after suffering a nasty head injury in the penultimate game of the season at Brentford. A tough-tackling and whole-hearted competitor, Micky will be focused on a return to regular First Team action during the 2006/2007 campaign.

Matty Robson
Matty signed a new contract with the Club during the close season after enjoying a good run in the side towards the end of the last campaign. He is a player who likes to get forward as much as possible and can also play further up the left flank if called upon. Matty impressed on the left wing last season, bursting forward and causing the opposition problems – he even popped up with a wonder goal against Chesterfield to seal the points. He is full of energy and enthusiasm and looks to have a bright future in the game if he keeps progressing as he has. His sweet left foot means he is always a decent bet from set-pieces and he can also deliver good quality crosses in to the box.

Michael Nelson
Michael has been a dominant force in the heart of Pools` defence since joining the Club in the summer of 2003 and has become one of the most respected players in League One. He made a move to Bury from Bishop Auckland in 2001 having enjoyed a successful trial period and went on to become a fans` favourite at Gigg Lane. Having scooped the Player of the Year Award for The Shakers he moved home to join Pools and made an instant impression. On the opening day of the 2003/2004 campaign, Nelson strode forward to blast home a 30-yard blockbuster to give Pools a 4-3 win at Peterborough – he`s never looked back since. He is aggressive in the tackle and superb in the air, he`s been in contention for the Player of the Year awards at The Vic in all three of his seasons with the Club. He was one of Pools` more consistent performers throughout last season, winning numerous man-of-the-match awards for his commanding displays at the heart of defence.

John Brackstone
Young left-back John signed a new contract with Pools in the summer to keep him at his home-town Club. An aggressive and tough-tackling defender, he also possesses a lot of skill and his sweet left-foot means he is a threat from set-pieces. He battled back from a broken leg sustained in the Reserves during the 2002/2003 season and made several appearances in the First Team in the following term – scoring his first goal against Whitby Town in the FA Cup. Although he featured in only four First Team outings last season, John is highly thought of at the Club and is looking to make a big impact at senior level this term.

Carl Jones
Carl is a tall, strong defender who has made impressive strides through the ranks at Victoria Park in a relatively short period of time. He was spotted playing against the Club for Chester-le-Street and did sufficiently well to warrant a trial. Since then he has worked tremendously hard and his attitude and desire saw him rewarded with a new contract at the start of the current season. Carl is an aggressive player who is willing to work hard and is a youngster who can make a big impression at The Vic if he continues to improve. He made his debut in the game against Yeovil Town at The Vic last season and is certainly tipped for big things with the Club.

Graham Low
Central defender Graham has impressed greatly during his time with the Club and was offered a professional contract ahead of the new season. The offer was made despite the fact that he missed out on the majority of last term with a shattered kneecap – showing the faith Pools have in his ability. Graham was included in the First Team in the 2004/05 season and was unfortunate to miss out on his opportunity last term. He is a good passer of the ball and is also good in the air and he`ll be another looking to make his mark on the senior squad this season.

Neil Muckles
Neil missed out on the whole of last season with various cartilage injuries but had still done enough with Pools to earn himself a professional contract with the Club in the summer. The tough-tackling full back has a whole-hearted approach to the game and has made an impact at both Youth and Reserve Team level. After missing out last season, the youngster is in determined mood and looking to push on this term and get some First Team experience under his belt.

Gary Liddle
Gary joined the Club from Middlesbrough in August 2006 and has added some versatility to the Pools squad. His ability to play in a number of positions across defence and midfield made him an attractive proposition and boss Danny Wilson was delighted to be able to prise him away from The Riverside Stadium. He was part of The Teessiders` FA Youth Cup winning side and, although a back injury hampered much of last season, he is keen to show the Pools fans what he is capable of.

Mark Tinkler
Mark is a tough-tackling midfielder who joined the Club from Southend United in the summer of 2000. He`s comfortable when in possession, his passing range is exceptional and he has a calming influence in the middle of the park. His height is a big advantage at set pieces and he can chip in with his fair share in goals. He has been utilised in the centre of defence on occasions and many have tipped him to become a regular at the back later in his career, though for now he is happy in midfield. The former Leeds United man missed out on a large chunk of last season with an Achilles injury but he is looking to stamp his authority back on the midfield this term.

Lee Bullock
Lee joined Pools from Cardiff City at the beginning of last season and quickly established himself in the heart of midfield. The tough-tackler is also a threat going forward and bagged himself four crucial goals last term. A regular in the side last season, he settled into the Club quickly and looked comfortable playing alongside a number of midfield partners. A six-foot midfielder, Lee will be looking to bolster the Club`s attempts to make an impression in League Two and will be looking to secure his own place in a competitive midfield.

Darrell Clarke
Although suffering some misfortune on the injury front in recent seasons, Darrell is a big fans` favourite at Victoria Park. The whole-hearted midfielder never stops working for the team and has a real knack for finding his way in to space behind opposition defences. The former Mansfield schemer chalked up his 50th career goal during Pools` 2-1 win at Wrexham in April 2004. He is comfortable operating on the right flank as well as in central midfield and his bubbly behaviour on the training ground always keeps a smile on the other lads` faces!

Ritchie Humphreys
Last season`s Player and Players` Player of the Year, Ritchie arrived at Victoria Park in the summer of 2000 looking to rebuild his career after a broken leg suffered whilst playing for Cambridge United. He has played the majority of his games wide on the left for Pools, though last season he played the vast amount of games in a new left-back role, where he earned rave reviews. Ritchie has been an ever-present in the League for Pools since his arrival at the Club and notched up his 250th consecutive game in the game against Gillingham at The Vic at the beginning of November 2005. He`s a player who can always be counted on for giving everything in every game and although he loves nothing more than finding the net, he is always likely to provide chances for others too, whether it be from his midfield berth or at left back.

Gavin Strachan
Gavin is a cultured midfielder with superb passing range who was signed on the eve of the 2003/2004 campaign. He got off to the best possible start in his Pools` career when he curled home a beautiful free-kick in the 4-3 win at Peterborough United on the opening day of the season. Gavin was in and out of the side last season but missed out on a chunk of the action when he suffered a fractured foot in the game against Blackpool at The Vic. The injury though earned the midfielder a reputation for being something of a hard-man as he played on for over an hour with the injury. A classy player in possession, he is also determined to win the ball back when the opposition are in control and he will be looking once again to be a key player in the 2006/2007 campaign.

Antony Sweeney
Antony enjoyed another solid season in the centre of midfield last term. After impressing throughout the 2004/05 season and bagging himself 15 goals (one of which secured the play-off place for Pools), he cemented his position in the First Team last season, despite struggling to find the net as often. His non-stop running and limitless energy means he is just as likely to appear in his own box with a crucial tackle as he is in the opponents` area to score a goal. He suffered a few niggling injuries towards the end of last season but returned to play his part in the final game of the season at home to Port Vale. He will now be looking to get back to goal-scoring ways this season.

Ben Clark
Ben was signed from Sunderland in October 2004 after five years at the Stadium of Light. He captained England Under 19s in a Championship in Norway and has also represented his country at Under 15 and Under 18 levels. The versatile player, who can play in midfield or defence, suffered a stuttering start to last season, finding himself in and out of the side. However, once he established himself alongside Michael Nelson in the centre of defence, he really flourished and cemented himself as one of Pools more consistent performers. Ben will now be looking to build on his displays from last term and establish himself in League Two this season.

Darren Williams
The versatility of Middlesbrough-born Darren was a big attraction for Pools when signing him, as he is able to operate anywhere across the back four or in midfield. He started his professional career with York City before being snapped up by Sunderland in 1996. An initial loan move to Cardiff City turned permanent in the summer of 2004 but new Bluebirds boss Dave Jones allowed him to leave after just one season and Pools were quick to swoop for his signature. After a slow start to last season, Williams made the right-back slot his own for the majority of the season and he put in some very assured performances.

Michael Maidens
Young midfielder Michael made his first start for the First Team in the game at Blackpool in September 2005. He went on to make 22 appearances for the senior side last term, impressing The Vic faithful with some quality performances. Michael also proved he has an eye for a goal when he curled in the Goal of the Season against Huddersfield towards the end of the last campaign. His positive running means that he is an exciting player to watch and, with him playing on either flank, the youngster proved a valuable addition to the squad. His mature performances last term earned Michael a professional contract with the Club in the summer and he is looking to make more of an impact with the First Team this season.

Stephen Turnbull
Stephen is a central midfield player with a lot of potential and bags of energy. He is a highly competitive player who has a real hunger and determination to succeed as a professional footballer. The youngster captained the Youth Team during the Dallas Cup in 2005 when Pools achieved a creditable third place in the prestigious Super Group. Comfortable with the ball on either foot, Stephen really made a name for himself with the First Team last season, making 22 appearances in total and his confidence and maturity were a pleasant surprise to Pools` fans. His impressive progression with the Club earned the youngster his first professional contract and he`ll be hoping for another big season this time around.

Philip Turnbull
Philip is a young midfielder with a massive amount of potential and it was no surprise when he penned his first professional contract during the summer. Although he has not featured for the senior side as yet, he has regularly trained with them and travelled with them on away trips. He is a cultured player who is good with either foot; his determination and desire to win is also a key asset for a midfielder who will be looking to push on during the League Two campaign.