Hartlepool United can’t afford to get weighed down by pressure in their fight for League Two survival.
Manager Ronnie Moore wants Pools to go out and “enjoy” playing football and insists they should show no fear – starting with tomorrow’s trip to Notts County.
“Pressure? it’s for wimps,” said Moore.
“Just go and play football, we’re not getting shot at out there!
“Yes, it’s people’s livelihoods and the fans have supported the club all their lives – they don’t want to see us go out of this league.
“But it’s a game of football – go out there and enjoy it.
“It’s a matter of getting together, taking the chances when they come.”
Pools dropped to 22nd in the table this week – their lowest position since last May – following Yeovil’s draw at Luton in midweek, though there are games in hand.
“We can’t do anything about other teams winning,” explained Moore. “You have to live with that.
“But we have the opportunity [to pull clear] with our games in hand.
“They mean nothing though unless we are winning them.
“We know it’s going to be tough, there’s no doubt about that.
“But we have a decent squad here now and one we should not fear anyone.
“We need a little break, we need someone to put the ball in the net, however it goes in, it does not have to be a wondergoal.”
Luke James will be charged with that task tomorrow after making his return to Pools this week on a half-season loan from Peterborough United.
Moore has the task of choosing who will be up front with the 21-year-old, with Rakish Bingham, Scott Fenwick, Rhys Oates and Billy Paynter all candidates.
“Luke can play with any of our strikers,” said Moore. “He can play in a 4-4-2 or just off the forward.
“It’s a hard decision for me because given the amount of forwards here now, one or two may not be in the squad altogether.
“But all the lads have had ample time to put a smile on my face.
“None of them can knock on my door if they are out.
“Scotty is maybe the only one who can feel hard done by, but the reason I went for Bings last week was his pace.
“It wasn’t anything to do with me thinking Bings is a better forward than Scotty.
“It was horses for courses, but we can all be wise after the event can’t we? We can all say at 5pm, ‘oh, I wouldn’t have picked him’.”
One certain starter – aside from James – will be Nathan Thomas, who made a supersub appearance last Saturday against Exeter.
“If we had someone like Luke last week we would have won as Nathan was unplayable,” said Moore.
“He has ability, he is bright and quick and creates chances.
“Nathan can be our saviour – playing at that pace, opposition players can’t handle him.
“I don’t want to pin too much responsibility on one boy, but everyone has seen what he is capable of.
“I’m sure if he produces that week-in, week-out there will be enough balls coming in to satisfy any striker.”