Hartlepool United’s players warned they must shape up or face being shipped out

Craig Hignett.

Craig Hignett.

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Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett has issued his players with a warning - ‘shape up, or you’ll be shipped out’.

Despite having a squad laden with fourth tier talent, Pools have struggled for form this campaign.

While they have been able to mix it with the best in League Two at times, they’ve also looked well off the pace against some of the teams at the bottom end of the division.

And Hignett is pulling no punches when it comes to his underperforming players.

While he believes in the ability in the dressing-room, he says as a manager he cannot wait forever for things to click.

“There comes a time when the players have to improve and be better than they were last week, last month even,” he said.

“We want players not to stand still, we want them to improve here.

“When they aren’t better then maybe they have gone as far as they can here.”

Meanwhile, ahead of tomorrow afternoon’s visit to Port Vale in the FA Cup second round, Hignett, who will be without the suspended Scott Harrison, says that no matter how many times he changes personnel or formation, Pools’ philosophy will always be the same.

He said: “I know there’s a decent set of lads here who understand football, who know what we want to do and how we want to play the game.

“We stick with it and won’t change the way I want to play.

“The formation can change, but we will always apply the same philosophy on a matchday.”

“We want to keep passing the ball, remain organised and attack teams to score goals.

“Formations, I will change. But when are you ever in a formation?

“The main thing is to understand. One up front, two up front, we should always have the same people in the box when we are attacking.

“What I find is it’s how you say things. How you put it across to people as players sometimes take it literally and do the same thing every time. It’s about putting it in a different way.”