Hartlepool Utd boss to make sure players are up to the challenge

John Hughes at MK Dons. Picture by FRANK REID
John Hughes at MK Dons. Picture by FRANK REID

JOHN Hughes says his mission for the second half of the season is to make sure his players do not shy away from any challenge.

Pools find themselves in a perilous position at the halfway mark of the campaign and, prior to today’s trip to Carlisle United, were 14 points from safety at the bottom of League One.

There are still enough points up for grabs to make survival a possibility, although Hughes knows it will be an almighty task, especially given the club’s 21 consecutive matches without victory.

But the Scot is determined to instil a mentality which will see his men reject a defeatist approach, and instead wants to send them into battle with a dogged resolve.

“We won’t shirk away from the challenge,” he told SportMail today.

“Whatever comes our way we have to tackle it head on.

“If people on the outside are saying ‘look at them, they’re an easy touch’, we have to use that as motivation.

“We have to come out and face these challenges and be bang up for the fight.

“I’ll make sure we are like that, it’s the only way I know how.”

Hughes insists the pressure is still on his side despite their seemingly doomed position.

And he will be looking at his players to see who can handle that expectation.

“You have to stand up to pressure and produce the goods in football,” he went on.

“You have to be man enough to do that when the pressure is on.

“We still have a chance of staying up and because of that there is pressure, let’s see if we can deal with that.

“Let’s see if we can get that first win and then we’ll take it from there, get another and then who knows?

“But our mentality has to be right first of all.”