Hartlepool United’s Tony Sweeney urges a late push for the play-offs

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TONY Sweeney admits there is a haunting feeling of ‘what if?’ among the Hartlepool United squad – but he still hasn’t ruled out a late assault on the League One play-offs.

Pools disposed of another mid-table rival on Saturday as Notts County were sent packing 3-0 at Victoria Park.

The result lifted Neale Cooper’s men from 14th to ninth in League One, seven points off sixth-placed Stevenage.

But Sweeney cannot help pondering “what could have been” had Pools not dropped a club-record 24 points in succession on home soil.

“We are ninth now, but there’ll always be a case of what could have been,” the midfielder admitted. “We could be a lot closer to the play-offs than we actually are, and we should be.

“To lose eight in a row at home in the league just wasn’t good enough and we’re paying the price for that now. But you can’t dwell on hard-luck stories and we’ve just got to carry on as we are now, which is a good place in terms of confidence and results.”

Sweeney believes that the momentum gained by the arrival of Neale Cooper makes Pools the dark horses to gatecrash the promotion push as the season enters its final third.

“We have jumped five places after just one win,” he went on. “So the play-offs? It’s not impossible and there might be one place up for grabs with seven, eight or even nine teams pushing for that.

“We just have to carry on in the manner we are and see where we end up. Finishing in the top 10 would be good in itself, but can we push for the last 15 games and surprise a few people?

“I think we can. The manager has come in and we’ve picked up massively and there’s no better way to get everyone buzzing than a play-off campaign is there?”

Sweeney and co travel to Wycombe Wanderers this weekend looking for another victory to bridge the gap between themselves and the top six.