Port Vale v Hartlepool Utd: Third round dream tie spurs on Pools boss Hignett

Pools' Lewis Hawkins nicks the ball away from Wycombe's Joe Jacobson last weekend

Pools' Lewis Hawkins nicks the ball away from Wycombe's Joe Jacobson last weekend

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The financial rewards from FA Cup progression could aid Craig Hignett’s attempts to strengthen his Hartlepool United squad in the January transfer window.

Although, with a tricky trip to Port Vale on the horizon on Sunday, the gaffer is not counting his chickens just yet.

Pools head into the second round tie at Vale Park this weekend, looking to bounce back from last week’s disappointing 2-0 reverse at Wycombe Wanderers.

And Hignett is confident that his players can produce the goods against the League One outfit.

A win would not only give the players and fans a much-needed boost, it would also aid the club’s financial situation, with victory opening the door to a potentially money-spinning tie against one of the Premier League big boys.

And Hignett is hopeful that extra cash coming into the coffers will filter into his transfer budget for the winter window.

He said: “It is massive for the club.

“It is not cheap to run a football club, as I know too well. So you want to get through and draw a big team.

“That’s the type of things that can put cash in the coffers. Any extra money is welcome.

“It will make a difference for our budget in January if we get through, but it depends who we get.

“You can’t plan on getting through and getting a big team. We have to budget for the here and now.

“Whether people will stay or go makes a difference too.

“We will have to wait and see how much of an impact that has.”

As a player, Hignett enjoyed some relative success in the competition.

With Middlesbrough, he managed to reach the final in 1996-97, losing 2-0 to Chelsea that year, as well as enjoying a cup run or two with Crewe in his younger years.

It is for that very reason that Hignett ranks the competition so highly in his list of priorities.

He explained: “I love the cup and I want to do well in it.

“It is a game against a team in a higher league than us, but it should hold no fear.

“We will give it a good go.

“We have done our homework on them and we think we have nothing to be scared of.

“Physically and mentally, we will be well prepared.

“This is a platform for us and our players to go on to better things.

“We are the underdogs. Everyone is expecting us to get beat – we don’t.

“In a lot of ways, this is a free game for us, but we want to be in that third round.”

Not only is the competition a chance for the club to showcase itself, it is also a chance for his players, too, says Hignett.

Many a player has manufactured a high-profile move off an FA Cup show, according to the gaffer.

And he thinks his players can take inspiration from that.

“I don’t want players playing here for the rest of their careers,” he said.

“I want them to progress and to go on to better things. That is what they have to want to achieve.

“That is a challenge they have got.”