IF you are not getting whacked by defenders during matches then you’re not doing your job as a striker.
That is the view of Hartlepool United forward James Poole who says he is getting used to the heavy blows being dished out by the bruising centre halves week in, week out in Sky Bet League Two.
The lively striker has been in impressive form in recent weeks playing just behind 18-year-old Luke James, who tops the club’s scoring charts with nine goals so far.
It is a partnership that had been reaping dividends, that was until the disappointing 2-0 defeat to Newport County last Friday night.
Poole, however, was one of the few shining lights for the Pools management team of Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett, and he forced Lenny Pidgeley in the home goal into two smart saves.
The 23-year-old was also on the receiving end of several heavy challenges from the County defence, who were struggling to cope with Poole’s pace and constant probing of the back four.
The former Manchester City youth is well versed in the rough side of the game though and says if the defenders are not targeting you then you are doing something wrong.
“I’m getting used to the heavy blows,” said Poole, who wears the number 10 shirt.
“I seem to get whacked every week but it is when you stop getting whacked in games that you have to start worrying because it means the defenders no longer see you as a threat.
“I know I can play at this level, and higher, and I have the confidence to be able to do that.
“Teams will identify players, especially smaller players, who they think they can kick and almost bully out of the game.
“I have to take the hits, which I know are coming, and use that to my advantage.”
And he did just that against Newport, drawing praise from his manager for his “bright and positive” performance at Rodney Parade for his energy in and around the County penalty area.
The 5ft 11in hitman has netted four times so far this season and he will be looking to add to that tally when Northampton Town visit Victoria Park in Sky Bet League Two tomorrow.