Franks: Hartlepool United’s turn to spring a shock

Jonathan Franks in action against Blyth Spartans. Picture by FRANK REID
Jonathan Franks in action against Blyth Spartans. Picture by FRANK REID
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JONATHAN Franks believes Hartlepool United can cause an upset at promotion-chasing Burton Albion – if they can cut out the soft goals.

Managerless Pools, under the caretaker guidance of player coach Sam Collins, are bottom of the Football League going into the Sky Bet League Two match against fourth-placed Brewers.

It would be a surprise if Pools were to pick up a result given the side have lost six out of their last seven but Franks insists the team is capable.

Pools were overwhelming favourites ahead of the humiliating FA Cup defeat to Blyth Spartans but go into Saturday’s match at the Pirelli Stadium as underdogs against the high-flying Brewers.

Franks believes that can work in their favour but has called on his teammates to keep the ball better in the final third of the pitch.

The 24-year-old said: “The 3-1 Wycombe Wanderers defeat was very disappointing last time out in the league.

“We keep saying it but we are giving away goals too softly and teams are not having to do that much to hurt us.

“We have to stop that and keep the ball better in their final third and play in the opponents half a lot more than we have been doing.

“Every game in this league is a tough game and anybody can beat anybody.

“But we go into this game as the underdogs and there is no pressure on us from that point of view.

“Obviously we want to come away with a result and hopefully we can cause an upset.

“We are looking to go out there and surprise everybody and get the three points.”

Before being axed as manager Paul Murray brought in eight new players to Victoria Park, four on short-term loans and four on permanent deals.

Franks admitted it is “unusual” to have to re-build the squad mid-season but that is the situation Pools have found themselves in.

He says the new faces have settled in well but has called on the team to gel quickly as a defensive unit before it is too late.

“The new lads have all settled in really well,” added Franks. “We have gelled but we have to gel more as a defensive unit and retain the ball far better in the final third.

“Then we can hurt teams because we have the ability to do that, we just need to keep the ball up there for longer.

“It is unusual to bring in so many new players mid season and it is something we are not used to but it is only for the better of the club.

“It is about adding more depth and some healthy competition for the other lads.”

Saturday’s opponents Burton are managed by former Boro striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

Franks didn’t play alongside the Dutchman when he was coming up through the ranks at the Riverside but he knows his side will be fully prepared for the visit of Pools.

“I heard a lot about Jimmy being a good professional and you obviously need to be that to play at the highest level,” added Franks.

“Hopefully we can go out there and beat his side though.”

The Brewers also have Boro teenager Bryn Morris on-loan at the club for a month and Franks has highlighted the 18-year-old Hartlepool midfielder as one to watch.

Franks added: “I know Bryn and he is a tidy little footballer and a good professional.

“But we also have good players and Brad Walker knows him well through the England set-up.

“We know what they are about and they know what we are about but at the end of the day it is 11 v 11 and we have to match them.”