Hartlepool United-Wycombe Wanderers: Pools not safe yet

Dave Jones says there is a spring in Hartlepool United's step following their first away win in five-and-a-half-months.

Friday, 17th March 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:13 am
Rhys Oates battles with Cambridge's Max Clark. Picture by Andrew Roe/AHPIX

But the boss insists Pools are not safe yet as they prepare to take on promotion play-off hopefuls Wycombe Wanderers at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).

Tuesday night’s 1-0 victory at Cambridge has lifted Pools up to 20th in the table and nine points above the League Two drop zone, but Jones wants his team to kick on and not think they can take their foot off the gas.

“We’re not safe, far from it,” said Jones.

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“We need to try to get as many points on the board as we can to get away from the clubs below us.

“We know we have a lot of hard work in front of us and we are carrying a small squad at the moment.

“It’s vital the players keep believing and pushing on and getting better.

“Tuesday was good.

“All wins are satisfying, whether they are home or away. I think it’s nice, thoughm to have that monkey off our backs.

“The players were getting worried about it.

“People around the club felt it as well, me probably less so until one of you guys told me how long it had been.

“The win was good and the manner of it more so and the proof for the players that they can do it.

“Our priority has to make sure we are safe and then build.”

Jones is aware that Wycombe will be dangerous opponents tomorrow.

The Chairboys are 11th in the division, just five points shy of Exeter, who occupy seventh spot.

With games starting to run out, Wanderers boss Gareth Ainsworth knows he can’t afford top drop points tomorrow at the Vic.

“Wycombe will be pushing hard,” said Jones. “They are one of those teams who can still make the play-offs.

“I know their manager very well and he won’t be giving me anything. I’m going to have to go and earn it and that’s what we’ll be looking to do.

“We need to earn the right to play and that’s what will be emphasised to them.

“We must make sure we don’t rest on our laurels or switch off.

“It’s important we are ready and focused to do battle against another good side.”

Jones is waiting on a fitness check on Rhys Oates, who has been in excellent form, only to limp off on Tuesday night with thigh trouble.

The Pools boss would love to have him fit to spearhead the attack, but, with the 22-year-old having run himself into the ground in recent games, he may choose to give him a breather.

That could pave the way for Nicky Deverdics to start in midfield after coming on in his place on Tuesday night, when Lewis Alessandra was pushed further forward.

“Rhys does everything full pelt,” explained Jones.

“He has been feeling stiff and sore, but the one part he had not felt is the part he has injured.

“We’ll assess him, wait and give him as long as possible.

“He’s been asked to fulfil more than one role and he’s given his all, whether it’s through the middle or wide.”

Pools (probable): Fryer, Richardson, Walker, Harrison, Donnelly, Featherstone, Woods, Deverdics, Thomas, Alessandra, Amond.

Subs: Bartlett, Martin, Hawkes, Hawkins, Orrell, Rooney

Wycombe (probable): Blackman, Harriman, Müller, Pierre, Jacobson, O’Nien, Gape, Bean, Weston, Akinfenwa, Southwell

Subs: Jombati, Wood, Cowan-Hall, Richardson, De Havilland, Jakubiak, Saunders