COLIN Cooper wants “big hearts” for the rest of Hartlepool United’s season – and has hailed Marlon Harewood for his commitment to the cause.
The experienced striker, though not fully fit, led the line in Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Chesterfield.
And Harewood will be required again this weekend when Pools visit Burton Albion on Saturday and entertain Morecambe in a proverbial six-pointer on Monday.
Cooper is unlikely to start him in both games viewing that two games inside three days may not be conducive for the 34-year-old, who is just back from an ankle injury.
Harewood looked a little rusty against the Spireites but Cooper has praised the former Premier League striker for his attitude.
“Marlon put himself out there,” said Cooper. “He was not 100 per cent by any means but wanted to be part of it.
“At half-time he said he wanted to stay out there, but it wasn’t easy as he’s missed training for two weeks.
“Marlon put himself there to be shot at and that’s the type of player I need in the coming weeks.
“The people who want to be out there will do more than enough to get the results we need to get us over the line.
“The players who don’t want to be out there tell me stuff.
“It’s not easy to go over that white line, whether you’re
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doing well or not doing well.
“But we are in a three-week shoot-off where we have to make sure we get more points than the teams below us.
“People who want to step out there are those you need.
“Those who want to play will show me.”
And while there are 12 points still on offer, Cooper would like Pools safety sorted sooner rather than later.
“We need as many people on the pitch at Burton with big hearts and minds and same again on Easter Monday at home to Morecambe,” he said.
“We still have four matches but if we can get two good games now we can make sure people don’t start getting jittery.
“If we get three or four points on the board quickly we can be OK.”
Cooper will maintain a positive air ahead of the Easter weekend, despite the critical nature of the season.
He will build up his players for the games, but will also be reminding them of the mistakes whgich have cost the side dearly in the last couple of weeks.
“You can’t hide behind the facts,” he said. “They show the problems we have are conceding goals.
“Look at the last few games, there are pretty specific reasons why we’ve not won.
“I think by all means I am not going to stop the brief of trying to play football.
“But we have not done the basics well enough – we have to keep the ball out of our goal.
“How are we going to do that? By doing the basics better.
“We worked last Thursday and Friday about defending our box from crosses and set-pieces and then on Saturday we conceded from both.
“It would not be right to touch on that again this week.”