JOHN Hughes will tell his Hartlepool United players not to bother pulling on the shirt if they aren’t “angry and excited” ahead of tonight’s mammoth match at Oldham Athletic.
The Pools boss is desperate for his men to reignite their survival push after successive goalless draws on home soil and it doesn’t come any bigger than the trip to Boundary Park.
The Pennines club are four points clear of Pools in 21st position.
Two points ahead of the managerless Latics are Scunthorpe United, the side who those in the drop zone will be trying to reel in over the coming weeks.
Hughes, then, agrees that victory is a must for Pools this evening and the Scot has a strong message for his players.
“If you’re not excited then don’t put the strip on,” Hughes said, “They need to go out there and be angry and go at it.
“We need the eye of the tiger – we need everyone from now until the end of the season to be right at it.
“I need leaders of men – guys who won’t feel sorry for themselves and will go and express themselves.
“The boys need to pick themselves up from the weekend – be that sleeping for 48 hours, whatever they want – but they need to have a ‘cup final’ mindset for this game, if not then don’t put the strip on.
“We need to go there and win.”
Hughes will be hoping those words are acted upon by his front three in particular.
It is now three matches without score for Pools and they have struggled to create during that period, the form of Charlie Wyke, James Poole and Jonathan Franks having dipped significantly.
Hughes went on: “Maybe we’re asking too much of the front three.
“Maybe we have to look to freshen it up and get them playing with the energy and belief they did against Crewe. When they do that they will keep us in this league.”
With results elsewhere having been favourable over the weekend, Pools could move to within three points of safety with the win.