UNDER-pressure Colin Cooper is hoping to win round “frustrated” Hartlepool United fans with victory over Portsmouth at Victoria Park tomorrow.
Pools are second bottom in Sky Bet League Two following last week’s 2-0 defeat at Plymouth and a 5-1 hammering at Northampton.
There has been talk of supporters staging protests mid-match and boss Cooper said he can understand fans’ frustrations.
Cooper said: “Saturday is a chance to get some of the fans back on side.
“If we can produce what we did against Shrewsbury (when the Shrews were beaten 2-0 earlier this month) then the fans will be happy.
“They are as frustrated as we are – as I am – with the situation.
“Two wins would certainly make things better, but I am led to believe some fans are voicing their frustration and I can understand that.
“The job as a team is to give them a performance to send them home happy with a win, a smile on their face knowing we are heading in a good direction.”
But it will be far from easy against a Pompey side sitting 11th, with 14 points from nine matches.
“It will be a hard one, a tough test,” admitted Cooper.
“The three times we have played them under Andy Awford, they are organised and don’t give much away and have a genuine goal threat.
“They have tweaked formations a couple of times and, having lost last week, they might look again.
“We have to be at it and make sure we are aware of their goal threat.”
Cooper is expected to bring on-loan Middlesbrough striker Charlie Wyke back into the side, the 21-year-old top scorer having missed out at Plymouth suffering concussion at Northampton.
Pools had a further scare in training this week when midfielder Michael Woods suffered a heavy knock, but he is fit to play.
Defender Stuart Parnaby remains out injured with a knee injury, but Michael Duckworth, who was on the bench at Plymouth and played an hour for the reserves in midweek, could return in place of Wearsider Jordan Richards.
Cooper added: “Other than Stuart Parnaby’s knee, we are OK. He has been working very hard to get on the pitch.”
HARTLEPOOL (probable): Flinders; Duckworth, Bates, Harrison, Austin; Brobbel, Miller, Walker, Compton; Franks, Wyke. Subs: Woodman, Holden, Collins, Richards, Woods, Atkinson, Harewood.
PORTSMOUTH (probable): Jones; Devera, Robinson, Whatmough; Butler, Wynter, Hollands, Wallace, Dunne; Drennan, Agyemang.