Notts County v Hartlepool United: Craig Hignett wants to see Pools climb League Two

Josh Laurent on the ball for Pools at Morecambe. Picture by FRANK REID
Josh Laurent on the ball for Pools at Morecambe. Picture by FRANK REID

Hartlepool United’s season is entering its final straight but Craig Hignett does not want any let up in their finishing burst.

Pools head to Notts County tonight proudly placed in 16th place in the League Two table (kick-off 7.45pm).

We are above Crawley now, can we go further? Why not? We have six games left, there are 18 points to play for

CRAIG HIGNETT

For the first time in four seasons, Pools are not involved in a relegation struggle – in fact they are closer to the play-offs (14 points) than they are to the relegation zone (18 points).

Whether Pools can get any higher than their current position is debatable given they trail Luton in 15th by five points and 14th-placed Barnet by seven.

With the Hatters hosting relegation-condemned Dagenham tonight, it’s unlikely Pools can make up any ground but Hignett insists they have to “keep it going”.

Hignett said: “We are above Crawley now, can we go further?

“Why not? We have six games left, there are 18 points to play for, let’s see where we can go.

“Let’s get as high as we can, but, at the same time, I am going to have a look at other things and different options now.’’

Hignett touched on it that he has selection issues tonight at Meadow Lane.

Probably nine times out of 10, he would keep the same XI following a breathtaking result like Saturday’s 5-2 victory at Meadow Lane.

But Hignett wants to take a look at a number of players in his squad who have had limited exposure during his reign.

Working from the back, Scott Harrison, Josh Laurent, Brad Walker and Rakish Bingham are likely to gain starts in the coming six games.

Dan Jones, who started the first two games of Hignett’s tenure, is almost certain to play against the Magpies with Jake Carroll struggling after taking a bang to the head at the Globe Arena.

Rhys Oates is also a contender having played the full 90 minutes at Carlisle a week ago and scored after coming on as a sub at Morecambe.

“I’m pleased to see Rhys score,” said Hignett.

“He’s had to wait and bide his time.

“I thought he did well at Carlisle, he gave us tremendous energy, and was unfortunate to lose his place to Nathan (Thomas) on Saturday.

“Josh has come on and we’ve had a look and I’m sure he will get more game time between now and the end of the season.

“Brad (Walker) came on and won us a penalty with a brilliant run.

“I’m absolutely delighted for those lads.”

Whoever Hignett starts with tonight against 18th-placed Magpies, he feels Pools “owe Notts County one” for the 3-2 defeat they enjoyed at Victoria Park in the manager’s second match in charge.

Pools went 2-0 down early in the piece, pulled it back to 2-2 in the second half and had chances to win, only to concede a late winner to Jon Stead.

“Notts County is a game we lost the other week and I’ve said before if we played it now we would not lose it like we did,” said Hignett.

“I suppose we do owe them one

“We are above them in the league now and the roles are sort of reversed from the last time when they were above us.”

Pools (from): Carson, Magnay, Jackson, Harrison, R Jones, D Jones Featherstone, Laurent, Woods, Walker, Hawkins, Gray James, Thomas, Oates, Bingham, Bartlett, Duckworth, Richards