YOGI: FREE YOUR MINDS - Hartlepool Utd boss wants players to take on Stevenage free of fear

John Hughes
John Hughes

JOHN Hughes insists that what he has seen at Maiden Castle this past fortnight has been “totally different” to performances on the pitch – but admits that will count for nothing with defeat tomorrow.

Pools welcome seventh-placed Stevenage to Victoria Park (kick off 3pm) after a two-week break in which they’ve got down to work on their Durham training pitches.

Hughes says he has learnt a lot – good and bad – during that period, but believes there is a fear evident in matches which is not apparent during practice sessions.

The new Pools boss is desperate for his men to transport their training-ground promise on to the League One stage – where his side are 10 points from safety – and he is confident fans will again witness an improvement against The Boro.

“What I see on the training pitch is totally different from a Saturday,” Hughes told SportMail.

“There is a trepidation.

“We have to find the mindset to go and relax and play with a freedom.

“You need to enjoy it – you get paid to do this.

“It’s my job to keep them relaxed.

“If I can make what we do on the training pitch good fun and competitive then that will help.

“But you can do what you want on the training pitch, what happens on a Saturday is what counts.

“We desperately want this home result, this first win.

“I would happily take a horrible, scrappy 1-0 win right now.

“I honestly believe it would do everything for our confidence , our belief and our season.”

And, when asked what benefits had emerged from the break, he went on: “I see an improvement.

“We’ve been hampered by the weather a bit, but I see a spirit among them.

“The training has been short, sharp and quick.

“Hopefully we’ll see that tomorrow.

“I know a lot now which I didn’t two weeks ago.

“I know I can make changes to make it better.

“I’m noting everything down.

“Even if I see something bad on the training pitch I’m still learning.

“I’m always watching wee bits and pieces – who has got a good touch, how do they react to certain situations, all of the time I’m just piecing the jigsaw together.”