NEALE Cooper has reluctantly conceded that Hartlepool United’s play-off dream is over.
But the Pools boss believes that a top-10 finish can lay the foundations for a renewed assault on the top six next season.
Cooper’s admission that a promotion push is now beyond them has been triggered by his mounting injury list.
Indeed, six first-team players – Sam Collins, Gary Liddle, Luke James, Colin Nish, James Poole and Colin Larkin – are currently out of action and Pools fielded three 18-year-olds during last weekend’s goalless draw at Walsall.
That point kept them in 11th position in League One, 10 points adrift of Notts County in sixth with 10 games remaining.
And Cooper told SportMail: “It’s difficult now to make the play-offs because we’ve got six first-team players missing.
“So that’s a big ask but our target now can be to finish in the top 10 – that would be a major achievement.
“It would be an improvement on last season and would mean that we weren’t too far away from the play-off places, which is where we’d all like to be.
“If we can do that then I think it gives us something to build on looking forward.”
Full story in Thursday’s Mail