Neale Cooper influenced Steve Howard's Hartlepool return

Hartlepool United striker Steve Howard says Pools boss Neale Cooper has rekindled his enthusiam after a miserable end to his Leicester career.

The 36-year-old left the Foxes at the end of last season and said it was a relief to re-join Pools after a tough time under manager Nigel Pearson.

Howard told BBC Tees: "I didn't leave on the best of terms. I wanted to go on loan and play but he wouldn't let me.

"I felt as though I was getting buried. It's nice to get my enthusiasm back."

Howard, who is back at Victoria Park after a 13-year absence, added: "I had three or people who came in for me on loan but he wouldn't let me go and he wouldn't play me.

"He's brilliant, he's a big motivator," he told BBC Look North.

"Speaking to him and Micky Barron gave me the enthusiasm to come back and get stuck into football again."

Howard made 23 appearances for the Foxes last season, scoring once, although 17 of those outings came as a substitute.

However with a squad featuring an average age of 25, it is a professional career which has spanned 18 years, 730 games and 205 goals that attracted Pools to a move for the Durham-born forward.

"Talking to Neale, talking to Micky, was key and it was obvious I was always going to come back to the north east," Howard added.

"If it wasn't for Hartlepool I would not have had the career I've had, so I'm looking forward to adding some experience to the squad.

"Micky was saying we're nearly there, we just need some experience and a bit of fight and I hope to bring that."