UNDER pressure Colin Cooper is hoping to win round “frustrated” Hartlepool United fans with victory over Portsmouth.
Pools slipped to second bottom of Sky Bet League Two with a 2-0 defeat away to Plymouth Argyle last weekend leaving fans angry and disillusioned in equal measure.
The Argyle loss came on the heels of the 5-1 hammering at Northampton Town and Cooper knows his side needs to put in a performance and get a result when Andy Awford’s side visit Victoria Park on Saturday (KO 3pm).
Earlier in the week there was talk of supporters staging protests mid-match and Cooper said he can understand fans frustrations.
He has called on his side to produce a performance similar to the one against Shrewsbury Town earlier in the month, when Pools beat Town 2-0 at The Vic.
Cooper said: “Saturday is a chance to get some of the fans back on side.
“If we can produce what we did against Shrewsbury then the fans will be happy.
“They are as frustrated as we are - as I am - with the situation.
“Two wins would certainly make things better but I am led to believe some fans are voicing their frustration and I can understand that.
“The job as a team is to give them a performance to send them home happy with a win, a smile on their face knowing we are heading in a good direction.”
But it will be far from easy against a side currently 11th in League Two, with 14 points from their opening nine matches.
“It will be a hard one, a tough test,” said Cooper.
“The three times we have played them under Andy Awford, they are organised and don’t give much away and have a genuine goal threat.
“They have tweaked formations a couple of times and, having lost last week, they might look again.
“We talk about Financial Fair Play, they were still getting Premier League parachute payments not too long ago.
“But they have suffered from overstretching themselves in the Premier League.
“They are on an even keel and we have to be at it and make sure we are aware of their goal threat.”
Cooper is expected to bring on-loan Middlesbrough striker Charlie Wyke back into the side, the 21-year-old top scorer missed the Argyle trip after suffering concussion at Northampton.
The club had a further scare in training this week when midfielder Michael Woods suffered a heavy knock but he is fit to play.
Defender Stuart Parnaby remains out injured with a knee injury but Michael Duckworth, who was on the bench at Plymouth and played an hour for the reserves midweek, could return to the side in place of Jordan Richards.
Cooper added: “We had a scare this week with Michael Woods in training when we thought he had been knocked out but he hasn’t so that’s a relief.
“Other than Stuart Parnaby’s knee we are okay.
“Stuart has had a scan and we are just waiting for the results of that.
“He has been working very hard to get on the pitch.
“The game at Northampton, when we all felt as though he was ready, he was actually putting himself through the mill for me.
“Maybe he shouldn’t have done that.
“He is very sore but hopefully it will settle down.”
Pools go into the match at The Vic on the back of a long week on the road, which saw them clock up almost 1,200 miles and lose both matches at Northampton and Plymouth.
Cooper felt his side could have got something out of the trip to the south west coast.
He added: “Plymouth was there for us I feel, John Sheridan said if Jonathan Franks scored, we would have gone on and won it.
“That was nice to hear, but easy to say after winning.
“The next challenge is at home on Saturday and again it’s a tough one but one we are ready for.”
Pools 4-4-2 (likely): Flinders, Duckworth, Bates, Harrison, Austin, Brobbel, Miller, Walker, Compton, Franks, Wyke.
Subs: Woodman, Holden, Collins, Richards, Woods, Atkinson, Harewood.
Pompey 3-5-2 (likely): Jones, Devera, Robinson, Whatmough, Butler, Wynter, Hollands, Wallace, Dunne, Drennan, Agyemang.