HARTLEPOOL boss Mick Wadsworth insists tomorrow’s visit of boyhood club Sheffield Wednesday to Victoria Park is not simply a case of “any other game” – and says players should lift themselves for the big game.
The Pools manager has repeatedly urged his players to dispense with deference towards opposition teams this season – ploy which has certainly worked as the side has climbed to third in the League One table.
But Wadsworth believes tomorrow’s clash with the Owls, in front of a near-sell-out crowd, is a different matter.
Instead, he will call on his unbeaten men to rise to the challenge of pitting their wits against illustrious guests – though that is not to say Wadsworth is in awe of the current crop of Wednesday players.
And he is adamant that victory, a sixth on the spin, is very much achievable.
“It’s a fantastic weekend to look forward to,” he said. “For a big, big club like Sheffield Wednesday to be coming to us, and for us to be matching them stride for stride at the moment, is a terrific test for us.
“It’s hard to think of Sheffield Wednesday as just another League One team.
“That’s because they are such a big club, by far the biggest in our division. It’s a big football city and big club with a proud tradition so it’s difficult to say we’ll treat them the same as we’d treat Bury, and that’s no disrespect to Bury.
“But it has a great ring for Hartlepool United to be playing Sheffield Wednesday at Victoria Park. So I think this is different and isn’t just any other game, but that’s not a feeling of fear or over-complimenting them, I just think it’s a very exciting day.
“It’s a great opportunity to say to people ‘we’re going to stick around here’.
“We’re desperate to stay up there and a win tomorrow would go a long way to helping us in that venture.”
Gary Megson’s side, in eighth position, are four places behind Pools although the two are only separated by goal difference.
The Hillsborough club beat Wadsworth’s men three times last season, including a 5-0 win in the corresponding fixture, and he won’t be shy to remind his players of that fact ahead of tomorrow’s showdown.
“They gave us a right pasting last year, once at our place and twice at their place and we never really got close to them,” he went on.
“I won’t need to remind the players of those defeats, although I probably will!”
Pools could still be without Stephen Wright after he took a kick to the knee in training last week and Wadsworth must decide whether to recall Evan Horwood, match-winner at Bournemouth, in place of Ritchie Humphreys.