Ronnie Moore admits Hartlepool United have a “helluva test” in their big FA Cup confrontation with Derby County – but will not dismiss chances of an upset.
On paper, Pools would appears to have no hope against an in-form side who look destined for the Premier League.
Moore has selection concerns at right-back which has not helped the mood of the boss who has seen the last three fixtures fall victim to the weather. But the manager will not tolerate any defeatist talk ahead of the visit of the high-flying Championship outfit tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).
“There are always shocks in the FA Cup and we have to believe shocks can happen,” said Moore. “We have to be top drawer for anything to happen, and we have problems with injuries to think about.
“We are trying to get someone in although, even if we did, the players we are looking at and lining up at cup-tied.
“Let’s go and enjoy it and there’s no pressure on us – it’s all on them. We just have to make sure we do ourselves justice. We’ve played three games up to now in the FA Cup and not played well, yet got through to the third round.
“May be we are getting a bit of luck and it might get us through to the fourth round?”
Moore is full of admiration for Derby County and their boss Paul Clement who, in his debut season at Pride Park, has taken the club into the Championship’s automatic promotion positions.
The Pools chief joked that Pools had scared the Rams into a £4million-plus transfer swoop this week for forwards Abdoul Camara and Nick Blackman. Both are likely to be in the squad tomorrow.
“Derby have made two new signings – panic stations for them!” laughed Moore.
“I watched them at Leeds and they were excellent.
“Derby have tremendous strength in depth, especially after the two signings.
“They have a fantastic team and have a great manager who brought in Kevin Phillips as well, they have a good backroom staff and fabulous players.”
“We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Moore says that even if Clement rings the changes that the Rams will have a powerful squad at the Vic.
“If they leave six or seven out, they’ll stick them on the bench,” he said.
“If they need their best players they’ll bring them on, like they did when me and Sam watched them at Leeds.
“They brought on Ince and Martin and Ince got them a goal.”
However, Moore knows the neutrals will be keen to see Pools pull off an upset tomorrow.
“That’s the nation, people wanted Salford to beat us, but that’s the FA Cup,” said the boss who has problems at right-back.
Michael Duckworth is out with a stomach muscle problem and the man he would like to replace him with, Carl Magnay is still struggling with a groin strain.
Jordan Richards, a natural right-back, is probably not match-sharp while it would be a risk to pick Scott Harrison, who filled in there against Plymouth.
Harrison performed well against the Pilgrims but trying to quell the threat of Derby’s Johnny Russell is a different matter altogether.
“We are struggling with availability, mainly at the back,” added Moore. “It’s hard to get a good balance in there – it may be a case square pegs in round holes.”