HARTLEPOOL United are bracing themselves for a physical “challenge” from Northampton Town tomorrow.
Pools, chasing their fourth SkyBet League Two home win in succession, face a tough battle at Victoria Park against the bottom-of-the-table Cobblers.
Northampton may have the fewest away points and goals in the division, but they are top of the fouls committed stats.
Pools boss Colin Cooper believes Northampton boss Aidy Boothroyd will tell his players to get in the home side’s faces and try to bully them out of their stride.
“We have to prove we can stand up to that kind of challenge,” Cooper said.
“I suspect that Aidy will say ‘get in their faces and if you do then you have a chance’.
“We have to be prepared for that.
“We have to be prepared for them to be right in our faces.
“They will be thinking ‘you are good at football, but how do you fancy a battle?’
“You’ve got to stand up to challenges and that’s not just in League Two, that’s in life.
“If you don’t match up to a challenge, the man up against you, then he will overcome you.
“The foundation of every single performance is hard work, not playing good football.
“The good football comes from the foundation of hard work.
“There will be managers who say ‘they play nice football, let’s see how tough they are?’.
“We have some talented players, but if we dont take that [challenge] on board then we will get beaten.”
Cooper’s side have played some excellent football and scored some superlative goals during their climb up the table.
But he will not condemn or criticise clubs who take another route.
“As a manager of a football club, you have to find ways and means to win matches,” said the Pools chief.
“If it means you have to get in players’ faces and upset them, then you do it.
“What does a coach say to players going in to face Barcelona? ‘Sit off and let them have a million passes and come at us?’
“The people who get in Barcelona’s faces are the ones that have half succeeded.
“In our situation, Aidy Boothroyd will not allow his players to sit off.
“We will have to work hard to play football [against his tactics] whether it is in our faces, putting us under pressure as Newport did last week.
“I dont feel like we did that enough in the first half at Newport last week.
“We have to prove we can stand up to that kind of challenge.”
Cooper will not alter his approach tomorrow and is unlikely to change his team.
Pools were disppointing at Newport County last Friday when they succumbed 2-0.
Cooper does have two experienced figures with physical attributes at his disposal, Sam Collins and Steve Howard.
Collins is likely to be on the bench, but Howard has yet to even make the subs list following his three-match suspension last month.
The veteran striker cannot break back into the Pools 18, though Cooper could restore him tomorrow in case they may need to use his strengths.
Hartlepool (probable): Flinders, Duckworth, Burgess, Baldwin, Austin, Compton, Walton, Dolan, Monkhouse, Poole, James. Subs (from) Rafferty, Richards, Collins, Franks, Walker, Sweeney, Rodney, Howard.