JOHN Hughes says decisions are still to be made on the future of several Hartlepool United players - and has urged them to fight for their “livelihoods” during the three remaining matches.
While the Pools boss and his men are today focusing on their weekend trip to Tranmere Rovers, many of the first-team squad still do not know if they will be at the club next season.
Hughes had hoped to inform those out-of-contract players of their fate before the end of the campaign but those plans were shelved last week.
Among those whose deals are set to expire are Andy Monkhouse and Sam Collins.
Hughes, though, has praised the long-serving pair for their efforts of late and, like Evan Horwood, Neil Austin, James Poole, Nathan Luscombe and Ritchie Humphreys, they could yet win an extended stay at Victoria Park.
“As a manager you are constantly assessing who can do a job for you, so these boys are still playing for their livelihood,” Hughes told SportMail, his side five points from safety ahead of Saturday’s game.
“If the worst was to happen (relegation) there is still a chance they could be part of it here.
“If a manager was saying that to me then I’d make sure I would be part of it next year.
“We’re in a real hard world in football and there’s not much money going about at this level.
“I would feel fortunate to be playing for a football team as a full-time professional.
“So basically that is what I’m saying to them, ‘go out and play with a bit of pride and passion’.”
Monkhouse was scorer of both goals during Saturday’s 2-0 win over Bury while Collins has been an ever-present under Hughes.
And, when asked about the form of the Yorkshire duo, the Scot said: “Andy got two good goals at the weekend.
“He’s been good and has never been a problem for me.
“He’s a good footballer and can play in a few positions.”
He went on: “Sam has probably been one of the best players for me, certainly the most consistent.
“He’s found a level of form and maintained it, that’s what you want as a manager.”
Meanwhile, Colin Nish, currently on loan at Dundee, is also out of contract in the summer.