Craig Hignett: Hartlepool United must prove their promotion credentials
Hartlepool United mean business this season, according to manager Craig Hignett.
But the gaffer admits his team need to prove that to the rest of League Two.
Pools are unbeaten in their last six matches in the fourth tier but have managed to win just two of them.
That’s a fact that satisfies and frustrates Hignett in equal measure.
For as well as his side have played in the last few weeks against some of the top sides in the division, they have just 10 points to show for it.
Now, in any given season, that would be no bad return.
But given that Pools have thrown away leads in three of them Hignett has regrets.
And while results may not show Pools are set to challenge for promotion, the manager is certain he has the talent in his ranks to do just that.
No one within the four walls of the Northern Gas & Power Stadium needs convincing of that, but everyone outside certainly does.
Hignett said: “I think we are a much better team and squad than last year.
“But they have to see they are a match for anyone in this league and believe they are capable of winning the league. Only they can do that.
“I can tell them that and I believe in them, but they have to do it by performances.
“We want to be in the mix come May, but everyone does.
“The league is so tight and it comes down to consistency in performances.
“The reaction from Stevenage has been excellent. We were all angry that day – players can’t turn up and do what they want and everyone makes it hard for you at times. Since then they have rolled their sleeves up and realised hard work and effort is needed.”
Hignett reckons Pools laid down a marker with their performance at Grimsby Town last week.
And he thinks producing something similar against unbeaten Carlisle would be an even bigger signal of intent to the rest of the division.
“We laid down a marker with Grimsby and a win at Carlisle would, too,” said Hignett.
“It would be a really good place to go and get a victory.
“The onus will be on them to attack.
“They are a really expansive football side. I think it will be a good game.”
Hignett is complimentary of Keith Curle’s men, who could have former Pools man Charlie Wyke back in their ranks, ahead of the trip to Brunton Park.
But he does not fear what stands in front of his players.
“They have made a fantastic start - they haven’t been beaten by anyone,” said Hignett.
“These are the games you want to play in. We have played a lot of top teams recently.
“We played Plymouth - should have won that game. Played Luton - but for a sending off we would have won that. Played Grimsby - beat them. Crawley who are in the top six as well.
“So we have had a really tough stretch of games. This will be no different.
“Carlisle on their day are a match for any side but I know if we keep our discipline we have the quality to beat any team in this league.”