MICHAEL Duckworth has been on a rollercoaster ride of emotions since turning professional at Hartlepool United – and he hopes staying up will provide him with his biggest high to date.
Duckworth joined Pools from non-league Bradford Park Avenue at the start of last season and since then he has experienced the rough and the smooth at the Sky Bet League Two side.
We are looking forward to the last eight games and it is all about safety now - that is the only thing on our minds.Michael Duckworth
Pools flirted with the play-offs last campaign before a disastrous run towards the end almost saw them relegated, while this season has been a hard slog from the off.
But hopes have been raised the club could end the season on a high thanks to three wins in a week, to leave Pools a point from safety with eight games left, continuing against Cambridge on Saturday.
Duckworth has been fined and dropped by manager Ronnie Moore in recent weeks but is now back in the side in a new role at left wing-back.
“There has certainly been a lot of highs and lows since I turned pro,” the straight-talking Yorkshireman told SportMail. “Last season had a bit of everything but this year has been tough going.
“Staying up would be a tremendous high though and obviously the best thing that we can now hope for.
“We are looking forward to the last [eight] games and it is all about safety now – that is the only thing on our minds.
“We will do our best to stay up and the lads are giving 110 per cent.
“Sometimes things don’t fall your way but don’t get me wrong we haven’t been good enough at times.”
Moore’s side turned the corner though with wins over Morecambe (1-0), Oxford United (2-0) and Mansfield Town (1-0), all in the space of eight days, to reignite the survival push.
Duckworth was dropped for the recent home defeat to Burton Albion and he admitted that came as a shock to him.
But he has worked to get back in and played a key role in helping Moore’s new-look 3-5-2 formation pick up the three clean sheets.
Moore had been critical of the defenders but praised them this week following the recent upturn in fortunes.
The 22-year-old admits he is still learning his trade and said it has been a “steep” learning curve since turning pro following time in non-league.
And the German-born defender is enjoying learning from the likes of on-loan Scunthorpe United defender David Mirfin, who was winning promotion out of League Two with the Iron this time last year.
“It has been a steep learning curve for sure,” added Duckworth, a right-back by trade.
“I’m still young and learning though, like the others are too whether it is me, Mirf or Brad Walker.
“It is good to have players at both ends of the spectrum to learn from.
“Last year Mirf was getting promoted and now he is fighting relegation.
“He has been there and done it and we need to learn from him.
“It is good to learn from people like that,” added Duckworth, who has 69 Pools appearances to his name.