RONNIE Moore wants to see his Hartlepool United players come out fighting against a physical Mansfield Town side on Boxing Day.
Moore – who admits the festive fixtures are “massive” for Pools – is hoping to secure his first win as boss away to Adam Murray’s Mansfield at Field Mill – but he knows his side is in for a real battle.
“Mansfield will be a physical challenge – no doubt about that,” Moore told SportMail.
“They will play football but they have an awful lot of height in the side and they are playing 3-4-1-2 and looking to push men forward.
“If we are not up to the physical challenge then we will be in trouble.
“If we give away too many set plays and corners, with the height they have, we can’t match them.
“You look at our lads and we only need Snow White really because there are that many small ones in our side.
“We need to address that as soon as we can.
“A good little-un can, of course, always stop a good big-un from getting a clean header and that is all we can ask because we can’t lengthen them or make them any bigger.
“What we have at this moment in time we have to go with and be competitive and make sure we are touch type in all our set plays.”
The Stags are 16th in Sky Bet League Two with 26 points, 13 more than bottom-placed Pools.
Murray’s side struggle to score though and have only managed two more than Pools this season, who are the lowest scorers in the league with 15 goals.
Pools go into the match on the back of the 1-1 draw with Oxford United and Moore was pleased with the response from his side.
Moore: “Every player that played gave everything that was asked of them, we just have to learn how to win and hold on to the lead.
“That will come and it was nice to be in the lead, rather than chasing a game.
“We have taken two points out of 27 or if you talk to me one point out of three, that sounds better!
“These games are so massive to the football club, we can’t afford to make the gap any bigger than what it is because the season could be over before we get the new blood in to kick-on.
“But if we give what we did the other day we won’t be far away from getting a good result.”
Once the Boxing Day match is out of the way, Pools have a quick turnaround hosting Morecambe two days later.
Moore knows he doesn’t have the biggest squad and is relying on the older players to play twice in quick succession.
He added: “It depends on injuries whether I make changes, the games are very close together.
“It is not like we have a massive squad with massive ability and we can change it.”
Fit-again Michael Duckworth could return at right-back with Neil Austin moved to left-back, with Matthew Bates continuing to partner young Dan Jones in the middle.
Mansfield Town will be without midfielder Robert Taylor who is suspended after being sent-off during their 1-0 win at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.
Martin Riley is back after a hamstring injury but John Dempster and Alex Fisher are still expected to remain sidelined.
Pools (likely): Flinders (C), Duckworth, Bates, Jones, Austin, Featherstone, Woods, Franks, Schmeltz, Harewood, Ironside.
Subs (from): Maxted, Richards, Holden, Lanzoni, Smith, Walker, Hawkins, Compton, Fenwick.
Mansfield (likely): Evtimov, Sutton, Tafazolli, Waterfall, Freeman, Brown, Clements, McGuire, Heslop, Oliver, Rhead.
Subs: Studer, Riley, Bell, Bingham, Palmer, Heslop, Lambe.