Hartlepool Utd boss: Notts County is another must win game

John Hughes at MK Dons. Picture by FRANK REID

John Hughes at MK Dons. Picture by FRANK REID

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JOHN Hughes saw fit to label last Saturday’s trip to Portsmouth as “must win” – and he has adopted the exact same approach this weekend.

The Scot is mindful of getting “carried away” by that 3-1 victory at Fratton Park, his players having responded superbly to his pre-match declaration.

Hughes knows the short-term ambition of his side must be to string at least two results together, and that is why he says tomorrow’s visit of Notts County is crucial to their survival bid.

“We are not getting carried away (by Portsmouth) – but it was a job well done,” he told SportMail.

“We must keep focus on what is required, with 18 cup finals our aim now is back-to-back wins.

“Get that and I feel everyone will start to get going – confidence and momentum will fly right through the club.

“We are where we are for a reason, we got ourselves in this mess so let’s go and do something about it now.

“Last weekend was a must-win game and this is as well.

“It’s the biggest game of the season for us because we need to start winning games at home.

“Do that and we are right back in the mix.

“Most games will have a real significance and bearing on our season, we don’t want to be in this position but we are so we have to take it on.”

Hughes will again be without Steve Howard (hamstring) and Antony Sweeney (knee) for the visit of the ninth-placed Magpies, who won 2-0 at Portsmouth on Tuesday.

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It is likely the Pools boss will name an unchanged starting XI as he bids to reverse a run of seven straight defeats at the Vic.

Jordan Richards is edging closer to fitness following a knee absence and could return to the bench.

He had won a place in the side at right-back until picking up the injury problem in training, and Hughes believes the teenager’s presence sent a message to others.

“Jordan is getting there fitness wise and that’s good,” he said.

“He showed that when you get your chance you have to grab it.

“I kept him in the side for a few reasons and it sent a message to others – there you go look at this.

“On top of that he was training and playing well and deserved to stay there, so it will be good to have him back in.”

POOLS (probable): Flinders; Austin, Hartley, Collins, Horwood; Walton, Humphreys, Baldwin; Franks, Poole; Wyke. Subs: McHugh, Rutherford, Holden, James, Richards, Monkhouse, Luscombe.