Pools stars ‘playing for their future’

CENTRAL TO THE HOPES OF POOLS: Ritchie Humphreys in action against Doncaster Rovers. Picture by FRANK REID
CENTRAL TO THE HOPES OF POOLS: Ritchie Humphreys in action against Doncaster Rovers. Picture by FRANK REID
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JOHN Hughes admits that several of his Hartlepool United squad are playing for their future at the club.

The majority of Hughes’ number are out of contract in the summer, including first-team regulars Neil Austin, Sam Collins, Evan Horwood, Ritchie Humphreys and James Poole.

Hughes has already hinted towards shaping his own side come the close season, regardless of whether or not Pools escape relegation to League Two.

But the Scot has also warmed to many of the players he inherited back in November and all decisions regarding new deals will be delayed until the end of the campaign.

Hughes, though, says it is a subject he has broached with his men.

“A few players are playing for their futures, there’s no escaping from it,” he told SportMail.

“We spoke about it six weeks ago.

“We all love doing something we love and the adulation is great – you are a professional footballer.

“As a coach you try to put that appreciation in the dressing room and hope people are humble.

“On the other side of it, when you are playing for your livelihoods there’s a wake-up call and it brings pressure, but you have to do something about it.

“It’s the same for Hartlepool as it is Manchester United – pressure situations.

“The financial difference is vast, of course, but we are all still doing the same job.

“You’ve got to grab it and appreciate it.”

And Hughes, whose side are seven points from safety ahead of today’s visit of Yeovil Town, admits that the prospect of relegation has far wider consequences than the confines of the playing squad.

“It’s not just about a football team, it affects everyone at the club and the community as well,” he said.

“But I feel we have put some pride back in the place over recent and talking to other managers I see we are gaining respect.

“So everyone is feeling a lot better about themselves around the place but there is still work to be done because we want to stay in this division, do that and it would be better than promotion, the town would be on a high.”