Boss confident Hartlepool Utd v Stevenage will beat Arctic conditions

John Hughes manager of Hartlepool United.  Picture by FRANK REID
John Hughes manager of Hartlepool United. Picture by FRANK REID
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JOHN Hughes is confident Hartlepool United’s League One clash with Stevenage will beat the Arctic blast – admitting such conditions are akin to a summer’s day north of the border.

The Victoria Park groundstaff covered the pitch on Wednesday when snow hit the region somewhat unexpectedly, forecasters having predicted otherwise.

But the fixture is almost certain to go ahead save for heavy snowfall or a drastic dip in temperatures overnight.

Hughes was at the Vic yesterday to run rule over the playing surface having first taken training at the indoor Soccarena in Durham.

And the Pools chief told SportMail: “We’ve got the blankets on so hopefully it will be on.

“You talk about the snow, rain and frost – that’s just another summer’s day up in Scotland.

“As long as there’s no more snow then we should be okay.”

Hughes will be keen for the fixture to be given the green light having spent the past fortnight on the training pitches at Maiden Castle.

In that time both Simon Walton (hamstring) and Luke James (hernia) have edged closer to a first-team return.

Tomorrow will almost certainly come too soon for that pair, however, and Neil Austin serves the second of his four-match suspension.

That being the case Hughes could name the same team which started the 1-1 draw at Walsall at the end of last month.

And the Scot says he will stick with the 4-3-3/4-5-1 system which garnered his first point against The Saddlers.

“Right at this moment in time we have to play those three in the middle of midfield,” he said, refering to Paul Murray, Ritchie Humphreys and Antony Sweeney.

“We need that to keep us in a game.

“I learned that against Coventry (got beat 5-0), because as soon as they took the ball off us they were away scoring a goal or getting a shot at goal.

“We have to make ourselves harder to beat first and foremost.

“Any team that comes to Hartlepool has to know they’ve been in a football match.

“We don’t want the game to be over after an hour.”

POOLS (probable): Flinders; Baldwin, Collins, Hartley, Horwood; Franks, Murray, Humphreys, Sweeney, Monkhouse; Howard. Subs: Foden, Richards, Poole, Noble, Wyke, Luscombe, Holden.