NEIL Austin might just have to take it upon himself to give Hartlepool United’s backline a lead to protect.
Pools head into tomorrow’s home clash against Walsall without a goal in five matches.
Despite having kept two clean sheets during that barren spell, Pools’ rearguard eventually succumbed to the pressure on Tuesday night as they conceded three times at Oldham Athletic.
But Austin insists Pools defend and attack as a unit, and the right-back will be lending a hand with the latter against The Saddlers.
“It’s not a case of the forwards letting the defenders down or vice-versa,” he said.
“We attack as a team and defend as a team.
“With the current system especially the manager wants myself and Evan (Horwood) to get forward from full-back.
“I’ve always tried to do that throughout my career anyway but the gaffer really encourages it now.
“We’ve struggled for goals these past few weeks and it’s been frustrating, especially as we’d got things together at the back.
“But we need to get it right at both ends of the pitch tomorrow and if that means me chipping in with a goal or an assist then all the better.”
Austin, though, refuses to hide from the disappointment of the midweek defeat at Boundary Park.
“That was probably the biggest game in my time at the club,” said the 29-year-old, now in his fourth season at Victoria Park.
“We were up for it and were desperate to win, we knew what it meant.
“But for whatever reason it just didn’t happen, we were poor and we know that.
“There’s only one thing to do and that is to come out this weekend and make amends.”
Pools are unbeaten in six at the Vic, and Austin says that is a point of motivation.
“We haven’t lost at home since January,” he said, “And that is a huge positive for us.
“We’ll need to keep it that way if we’re going to have any chance of staying up.
“We need to make the Vic a fortress and that means winning tomorrow – nothing less will do, we have to win.”