EVERY team needs an unsung hero – a man who goes quietly and effectively about his work.
Nicky Featherstone has proved a candidate for such a plaudit during a successful run in the revitalised Hartlepool United side.
Featherstone had the unenviable job of coming into the midfield following a season-ending injury to the in-form Michael Woods.
The 26-year-old has filled the void left by his fellow Yorkshireman with some aplomb.
“Other than Tuesday I have been pretty happy with how my performances have gone,” said the former Hull City, Walsall and Hereford man, who was signed mid-season by Paul Murray.
“Injuries have given me a second chance and hopefully I’ve been able to take that, hopefully I can play a part in keeping Hartlepool United up
But Featherstone was keen to deflect any praise towards the three big men behind him – Scott Harrison, on-loan David Mirfin and Dan Jones.
The central trio have been rock-solid during the run of form which have lifted Pools from the foot of League Two and out of the bottom two.
“The back three have been really good,” Featherstone told SportMail.
“Scotty Harrison, in particular, has been a key player of late.
“It was great to see he’d won the Football League young Player of the Month, he’s been a big factor in us getting the results we have.
“David Mirfin is very experienced at this level after winning promotion from League Two with Scunthorpe last season
“He knows how to win games at this level.
“Dan Jones has come in and done a really good job at centre-back.
“I don’t think he’d played many games but for someone so young to do what he’s done in the situation we’ve been in is a really good achievement.”
Featherstone also lauded keeper Scott Flinders, who made a number of good saves in the 1-1 mid-week draw with Accrington Stanley.
“Scotty has been in good form,” he said. “He made some important saves, which is his job.
“He’s our captain and is a good talker and leader, a good experienced man to have behind us.”
Despite not having a win in three, Pools can go into tomorrow’s trip to promotion challengers Luton Town in good heart.
Their unbeaten five-match run was followed by an unlucky defeat to Southend and another 1-0 reverse at York City, despite having much of the game.
But they got a point against Accrington in midweek and come up against a Hatters team who are not in great nick themselves.
“It’s a tough game,” said the midfielder. “They are still in the hunt for the play-offs, just a few points off seventh.
“But every game in this league is competitive, anyone can beat anyone on any given day.
“So we can go there full of confidence to get the win.
“Before the Morecambe game we were eight points from safety.
“To put four wins on the bounce and then get a draw against Newport has given us a real chance.
“We don’t want that good work to slip by not getting the results in the last three games.
“The results have given us a positive energy, everyone believes we can stay up.”