Hartlepool United’s Hughes relishes Coventry test

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HARTLEPOOL United must beat the best team manager John Hughes has seen in League One if they are to stay on course for the “great escape”, writes ROY KELLY.

The first-team coach (pictured, right) watched Coventry City rip Pools to pieces on his first Saturday in the job.

Coventry won 5-0 that depressing November afternoon at Victoria Park and 19 games on, Hughes insists he has not seen a superior side.

But Hughes says he and Pools will relish the challenge of keeping the club’s good run going. Pools have lost only once in their last 10 matches and they are desperate to now make it just one loss in 11 when they visit the Ricoh Arena tomorrow.

“They are the best team we’ve played,” said Hughes. ”I was really impressed with them. Bournemouth were possibly a better footballing side, but Coventry are a right good team.

“That day we played them at the Vic, they were ruthless. It’s going to be very difficult. They still have aspirations to go and make the play-offs. And if they don’t do that this time I think they will be going for automatic promotion next season.”

Pools are likely to be unchanged, though Antony Sweeney could feature again.The midfielder has had two 45-minute outings for the reserves and made two brief sub appearances.

“We need to keep the reins on him,” said Hughes. “He’s not ready yet.It’s the same with big Stevie Howard, who’s nursing his knee a little bit”

HARTLEPOOL (probable) Flinders, Austin, Collins, Hartley, Horwood, Luscombe, Humphreys, Walton, Poole, Wyke, Franks. Subs: McHugh, Holden, Rutherford, Sweeney, Howard, James, Monkhouse