Hartlepool urged to show character for the fight

Sam Collins

Sam Collins

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HURTING Sam Collins has called on his under-pressure Hartlepool United team-mates to show more “character”.

Pools dropped to second bottom in Sky Bet League Two following the 3-1 defeat at Accrington Stanley on Tuesday night – a defeat which left Collins bouncing.

Three days on and the 37-year-old was still angry with his under-performing side when he spoke at the pre-match press conference before Paul Murray was announced as the new manager.

Defensive errors proved costly against Accrington and the first team squad have been put through their paces again at the Maiden Castle training base.

Pools travelled south today ahead of tomorrow’s match away at 15th-placed Cambridge United in Sky Bet League Two.

Collins said: “Saturday is a big test of character and you need character in football.

“If you are going to go on and have a long career you will have setbacks and times when you are not feeling great.

“Then, you need to show good character.

“Those that have long careers bounce back from big disappointments in their career, that is what you have to do.”

Collins said it has been a difficult few days following the Accrington loss in midweek.

Collins – who has been looking for a reaction in training – admitted: “I’m still hurting from Tuesday.

“I’ve watched it a couple of times again and it’s really disappointing.

“There’s not a lot in the game, not a great deal happening in the game and then you have to make sure you keep it tight and don’t give goals away to start with.

“Then we did have a few good moments in the game where, with a bit of quality in front of goal, could have scored more.

“But that doesn’t take away the fact that we gave poor goals away – things we worked on, things we spoke about and I’m just as angry now as I was on Tuesday night.”

The player coach had been looking after first team affairs ever since Colin Cooper handed in his notice after the home defeat to Carlisle United at the start of the month.

In the league, Collins oversaw a 2-1 win at Exeter City before back-to-back defeats to Luton Town last weekend and Accrington on Tuesday.

He admits it has been hard going this past week.

“It’s been tough doing this job and it is tough when you don’t win,” said Collins.

“It is enjoyable as players, manager, coach, fan, whoever, when you win but when you lose it’s not.

“It makes you angry, frustrated and disappointed but there’s always another game around the corner and that’s Cambridge.

“I’ve watched them three or four times now on DVD.

“They are a big strong, organised side who play good football.

“We have to be well organised, resolute, hard to beat and be prepared to put your body on the line.

“I’ve said these last two weeks it’s about the basics, winning your battles – that’s what gets you points, it makes you win games.

“If it’s a striker closing the defenders down, all these things make you a good team. It’s what you have to do.

“Cambridge have come up into the league with confidence. “They have a threat up front, I think in this league the first goal is massive. The percentage is about 70 per cent that who scored first wins the game.

“It gives you a foothold in the game and gives you confidence. People work hard to win games.”

Loan signing Matt Crooks, signed for a month from Huddersfield, is in line for a start while wingers Connor Smith and Kieran Green are also pushing.

Hartlepool (probable): Flinders, Duckworth, Harrison, Austin, Jones, Miller, Woods, Crooks, Green, Smith, Wyke.

Subs (from): Richards, Holden, Walker, Franks, Green, Bates, Harewood, Hawkins, Brobbel.