MICHAEL Duckworth admits the Hartlepool United players are struggling for confidence after a poor start to the season.
Colin Cooper’s side – third bottom in Sky Bet League Two – have recorded just two wins from their opening 10 league matches and go into the weekend match against bottom side Carlisle United in need of a win.
It is probably no surprise the players are lacking in confidence but they need to find some quickly ahead of the visit of Keith Curle’s Cumbrian side who picked up their first win of the season last Saturday.
Duckworth hopes last weekend’s goalless draw at home to Portsmouth will have raised levels a little, to make it three games unbeaten on home soil.
But scoring goals will help boost morale on both the pitch and terraces, with Pools netting just five times in the league so far this campaign.
“Confidence is a key word in our group,” Duckworth told SportMail.
“Play with confidence and it makes your game a lot easier.
“The confidence levels aren’t as high as they should be at the moment because of the results we have been getting.
“Hopefully after the point against Portsmouth it will have gone up a little bit and we can take it into this weekend and get three points.
“The hardest thing to do in football is score goals but if one goes in we’ll be fine from there.”
This campaign marks Duckworth’s second as a professional footballer after joining Cooper’s squad from non-league Bradford Park Avenue last summer.
He describes being a full-time pro as the “best job in the world” and insists he is loving every day at Pools - despite the disappointing start to the Sky Bet League Two campaign.
The right back, who is as useful going forward as he is defending, only returned to the Pools side for the draw with Pompey after missing the previous four matches with a hamstring injury.
The 22-year-old is honest enough to admit he was struggling for form at the start of the season but is confident he has turned the corner.
He is now looking to better himself and to help improve the fortunes of mis-firing Pools in the process.
Duckworth told SportMail: “Every week I enjoy being a professional footballer more and more.
“Coming in every day and playing football is fantastic - you can’t argue with it.
“It is the best job.
“It is hard work but hopefully we can reap the rewards for it and I only want to better myself.
“At the start of the season I don’t think I was doing that but I am back from injury now and looking forward to kicking on from here and helping the side.”