Hartlepool have fight for promotion - Antony Sweeney

Hartlepool United captain Antony Sweeney has said there will be no easy escape from League Two after last term's relegation to the bottom tier.

Only Swindon and Gillingham of teams to drop down have made an immediate return in the last five seasons.

"From League One's bottom half to all of League Two there's not really a lot in it," Sweeney told BBC Look North.

The gloom surrounding Hartlepool's relegation to League Two and the departure of John Hughes has been replaced by optimism following the appointment of Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett as the club's new management team

BBC Tees' Paul Addison on Hartlepool's season ahead

"Every game is going to be quite physical and hard, but hopefully our quality will come through."

Sweeney added: "We've got to be prepared to roll our sleeves up and dig in."

Pools's six-year stay in League One ended last term and with it the tenure of John Hughes - the club's third manager [including caretakers] of the campaign and their sixth different name in five years.

The vacancy was filled by the appointment of former Middlesbrough and England defender Colin Cooper and assistant Craig Hignett earlier this summer, and Sweeney believes their fresh approach has lifted the mood at Victoria Park.

"The most successful sides will enjoy it," he continued.

"Over the past couple of years results have been a struggle, it's been quite tough, but they're wanting to come in and put everything to bed.

"This is a new start, they're a new management team and whatever has gone on in the past has gone now."