Hartlepool Utd’s manager and player of the month focus on relegation fight

AWARD WINNERS: John Hughes (left) and Peter Hartley

AWARD WINNERS: John Hughes (left) and Peter Hartley

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PETER Hartley is the League One Player of the Month – but the Hartlepool United skipper admits there are more pressing matters than personal accolades.

The 24-year-old was the winner of both the SportMail and Players’ player-of-the-season prizes last term.

And, while Hartley believes those awards are a good indication of his own progress, he concedes that avoiding relegation is ultimate goal.

“At the start of the season I set myself some personal targets and put them away in an envelope,” he revealed.

“I’m not saying what they are but there were a few things I wanted to improve upon and I think it helps to set those goals.

“But I never imagined we’d be dragged into a relegation fight, I really believed we could improve on last season’s position.

“We’ve still got a chance to make up for our poor first half of the season and that’s what we’ve got to do.

“All I’m concentrating on now is keeping us in this division and I think we’ve given ourselves a brilliant chance.”

It was a double celebration for Pools yesterday with John Hughes also crowned Manager of the Month for February.

The Scot, though, was quick to deflect plaudits on to his players.

“I suppose these sorts of thing are a sign that we’re doing something right,” he said, “But all we’ve done is given ourselves a chance.

“We’ve got nine games now to keep us in this league and that is all we’re bothered about – that would be the ultimate achievement.”