500 not out for Hartlepool United’s Ritchie Humphreys

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RITCHIE Humphreys is set to become the first player to appear 500 times in the colours of Hartlepool United – but the club legend is in no mood to celebrate.

The 34-year-old could hit the milestone mark when Rochdale come to Victoria Park tomorrow afternoon.

Humphreys etched his name in the history books back in February when he surpassed Watty Moore’s club record of 473 appearances.

But, given the fact his landmark outing could come on the back of nine straight home defeats, Humphreys insists it’s no time for fanfare.

“Individual accolades are great and they’re nice to look back on when you’re finished,” he said.

“But you can never do anything on your own. Anything you achieve is always because of team-mates, staff and managers.

“One day I’ll look back and be really proud. But at the moment I would swap 100 of my appearances just for one win.

“We need that win desperately right now and we’ve got to get it as soon as possible, for ourselves and for the fans.”

Humphreys has started the last two matches since Neale Cooper’s return as manager and he again looks set to be involved for the visit of the Dale.

The Pools legend – who was the star player during Cooper’s previous reign at Victoria Park – is thrilled to see his former mentor back at the club.

“I’m delighted he’s back,” he said, “I’ve had great times with him before and we want to replicate those now. He’ll bring an energy and a motivational attitude and he’s a winner.

“I’ll enjoy working with him as both a player and coach and thankfully I’ve started the last two games.

“Neale’s shuffled things around a little bit and I’ve benefited from that. I love playing football – it’s the best job in the world.

“At my age you can’t kid yourself that you’re going to play 90 minutes for 40, 50 games a season. But when you’re called upon you’ve got to be fit and ready to go.”

At half Humphreys’ age, 17-year-old Luke James looks set to take centre stage tomorrow as Cooper bids to solve the problem of his side’s lack of pace.

James could be used as a centre-forward with hamstring victim James Poole again set to miss out.

James, by far and away the star performer from Cooper’s first two games in charge, has operated as a main striker for Pools’ youth team, despite his slender frame. But Cooper is more interested in his turn of foot and has hinted that he could be switched from his previous right-wing posting for the League One clash with Chris Beech’s Dale.

“Luke has been brilliant these past two games,” said Cooper. “For a young boy he doesn’t show any fear and he has, for me, been the best performer.”

Nathan Luscombe and Adam Boyd were recalled for Monday’s defeat at home to Scunthorpe but Luscombe will miss out tomorrow.

“I made changes on Monday and we will do the same again,” added Cooper. “When you are given an opportunity, in life and in football, you have to take it, but that wasn’t the case with Nathan.”