PAUL Murray will be giving it everything to help propel Hartlepool United up the League One table – even if it means sinking his hometown team.
Murray gave a man-of-the-match display on his return to the starting XI last Saturday when Pools picked up their first win of the season against bottom-of-the-table Scunthorpe.
Tomorrow’s visit of Carlisle United to Victoria Park is another great chance for three points.
The Cumbrians have yet to win on the road and are on four points in 17th place – two spots below Neale Cooper’s side, who boast a level goal difference.
And Murray admits that while the season is still in its infancy it’s vital Pools get maximum points tomorrow and get a foothold in the top half of the table.
“It’s very important,” the 36-year-old told SportMail.
“They haven’t had the best of starts.
“Their away form isn’t great so I think the onus is on us, as the home team, to go out and get the three points.”
Carlisle have had a miserable week – on and off the park.
United, perennial visitors to Wembley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, were knocked out their favourite competition in midweek by Preston North End, who won 3-1 at Brunton Park on penalties.
Worse still for boss Greg Abbott, midfielder Lee Noble was red-carded, ruling him out of the trip to Vic, joining another Lee on the sidelines, ankle-injury victim Miller.
Murray says Pools must look to take full advantage of the difficulties experienced by Carlisle, who have acted by bringing in Jake Jervis on loan from Birmingham City.
“They are missing Lee Miller, who is one of their main strikers, and Lee Noble got sent off on Tuesday,” said Murray.
“If we are going to be serious about what we’re going to do this season, tomorrow has got to be seen as a good chance to get three points.”
Murray, born and bred in Carlisle, insists there will be no split loyalties for him at the Vic.
The key midfielder, who has replaced Simon Walton in the middle of the park, started his career in his home city, making his debut as a 17-year-old before going on to make a £300,000 move to QPR where he gained England honours at U21 and B level.
Murray returned to Brunton Park in 2006-07 but only played one season there before moving on.
But there is no doubt, at 36, he is still playing as well as ever and being back in the team he will be looking to stay there.
“They still are my team, except of course when I play against them!” he said. “But that’s just football.
“I supported them as a lad and played for them from when I was 17.
“My time there has given me some of my best memories in football – I even made them some money when I left and I went back 10 years later and played for them for another season.
“But when kick-off time comes [tomorrow] it’s different, I’ll be giving everything for us to win.”
And Cooper has made no bones about handing him a starting role again.
“He is a one-off, he has just turned 36 but he is so fit, I’ve never seen someone train so hard,” said Cooper.
“Paul didn’t play at the start of the season, but he never moaned or came to see me. “He came on at Notts County in the second half and impressed.
“Can he play in a four [man midfield]? He always says he can and was excellent last week.”