Antony Sweeney focused on FA Cup progress with Hartlepool United against ‘a different calibre of opposition’ in Wycombe Wanderers

Interim manager Antony Sweeney is under no illusions of the challenge facing his Hartlepool United side when they welcome Wycombe Wanderers to Victoria Park on Saturday in the FA Cup (3pm kick-off).

By Dominic Scurr
Friday, 5th November 2021, 10:38 am

Wycombe sit fourth in League One and were playing Championship football last season.

And Sweeney – who is set to take charge of the second game of his second spell as interim boss – feels his side have been handed one of the toughest draws in the first round of the prestigious cup competition.

"Wycombe are the best at what they do in their division,” he admitted. “We've got to be resilient, show character and determination but I'm expecting a good game.

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Hartlepool United assistant manager Clint Hill and caretaker manager Tony Sweeney (r) during the EFL Trophy match between Hartlepool United and Everton at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Tuesday 2nd November 2021. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

"I think regardless of the games, you feel thrown in the deep end a little bit. They’re knockout games but two games that can bring financial revenue to the club.

"We speak to people and fans say it’s a no lose situation with two free hits but I don’t see it like that, I see it as games we need to win as a football club and we want to win.

"There is pressure on to win this game, there always is otherwise we wouldn’t be in this profession, we’d be out having a kick about on a field with our mates!”

Pools have been given a boost with Jamie Sterry in contention after previously being an injury doubt while Fela Olomola has also returned to full training.

"We changed the side around on Tuesday which was part of the plan,” Sweeney added. “This is a different test against a different calibre of opposition.

“We know a lot more about Wycombe and I expect them to cause us problems but it's up to us and our players to find solutions to those problems.

“The players have trained well, they were off Wednesday after the Tuesday game. We were in Thursday for a really good session where we got some information from the players and again hopefully we’ll add to that Friday and if we can show the same attitude and intensity that we displayed on Thursday then we’ll be in good form.”

Sweeney is still holding down the fort following Dave Challinor's abrupt departure earlier this week.

“We were a management team so a lot of what has happened over the last two years has been a collaboration,” he continued.

"It was led by Dave brilliantly, hence the promotion but there were always opinions shared and I’ve had some input in the team over the past two years so it won’t be totally different but I do have my own personal characteristics so there may be things we’ll try to do slightly differently.

“The FA Cup is massively special and the one competition where the football pyramid holds less relevance than anything else which is particularly beneficial for us playing a team in the league above.

"We've got to compete and give ourselves the best chance possible of reaching the next round.

“I can't think of many occasions where a cup run isn't a benefit to a football club. We're under no illusions that this is a difficult tie but we've got some good players who will be tested but we're hopeful we can do something.”

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