Craig Hignett issues Hartlepool United ultimatum as he accuses players of lack of effort and desire

Luke James is challenged on his return to Holker Street (Shutterpress).
Luke James is challenged on his return to Holker Street (Shutterpress).

Craig Hignett has issued an ultimatum to his Hartlepool United players - shape up, or you’ll be shipped out.

The Pools boss was deeply disappointed by his players’ performances in the 1-0 loss at Barrow’s Holker Street, with his side outclassed and outgunned from minute one to 90.

And he has offered any player the chance to walk away, if they’re not up for the fight at the Super 6 Stadium.

He said: “At times we played with a real lack of thought, and a real lack of desire.

“A few choice words have been spoken - I have told them how I feel in the dressing room.

“I need people here who I can trust.

“I can accept a player having a bad game, it happens, but I want them giving 100%, week-in, week-out. I don’t care what the circumstances are, whether the game means something or nothing, I want the lads to give 100%.

“That’s the mentality we have to find, to instil.”

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Hignett’s side take on automatic promotion outsiders Salford City at the Vic on Saturday, and Hignett knows his players need to up their game, if they’re to take anything from the game.

He continued: “They didn’t want to run about.

“They know the standards I expect, and next season they will be different again. It is going to go up.

“If you are up for it, let me know. If you are not just put your hand up and we will go and get someone who is.”

Pools were backed by more than 1,100 visiting fans, many decked in head to toe as knights in shining armour.

Hignett, in many ways, was seen as just that by owner and chairman Raj Singh, who was at Holker Street to witness Pools’ mauling first-hand.

"I know how big this job is,” said the manager.

“If you get it right, everything is there - the club, the following, everything.

“What it is going to take is time to get it all right, we need time at this club.

“We will get it right.”

Hignett was most disappointed for the travelling fans, who came in their numbers but were sent back with nothing to show for their time and effort.

“It isn’t nice,” he said.

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“I have been on the end of one when the Stormtroopers were there.

“You want them to have something to shout about.

“I am loathe to say it was a lack of effort from the players but that’s certainly what it looked like from where I was standing.

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“For them fans, it must have been more than frustrating.”

Reflecting back on the result, Hignett would not give any clues as to what was said between himself and the players.

“We were well beaten - we have to hold our hands up. We were not at the races,” he said.

“We were better in the second half but creating nothing more than half chances - that’s not like us.

“The talks between us will stay between us but the players know that kind of performance will not be tolerated under me. They know the reasons why. But what was said will remain between us.”