HARTLEPOOL United are as good as anyone on their day.
That is the view of Neil Austin and why he is not contemplating a third Pools defeat in a row.
The experienced defender, captaining the side superbly during the continued exclusion of Antony Sweeney, has echoed the sentiments of boss Colin Cooper of not letting a losing “run” grow.
And the 30-year-old says tomorrow’s visit of League Two strugglers Northampton Town is crucial to Pools’ aspirations.
“It’s very important,” said Austin.
“Good teams who want to go places should not lose two matches on the spin, albeit one was a cup game but it still matters.
“We will look to bounce back against Northampton.”
Austin said he is ready for whatever the Cobblers throw at Pools.
The strugglers claimed the scalp of previous leaders Fleetwood Town last weekend when Luke Norris struck a last-gasp winner from a free-kick.
It is likely to be a physical scrap at Victoria Park given the reputation which goes before the Cobblers.
“I think we pretty much know what to expect,” Austin told SportMail.
“Even though they are bottom of the league it will be a very tough game, all Aidy Boothroyd teams make it hard for you.
“They had a very good result last week and they’ll be confident.”
But confidence is something which is not in short supply at the Vic either, despite the defeats to Rotherham in the Johnstone’s Paints Trophy and at Newport last Friday.
“The gaffer has given the forward players freedom to go and express themselves, while still keeping it tight at the back,” said Austin.
“We’ve got some very good flair players and when they are on their game, I think we’re the best in the league.”
It’s all a far cry from the struggles early-season when Austin was top scorer on one goal!
“At the beginning of the season we were losing games we shouldn’t have lost,” explained Austin, who believes the squad is as good as he’s know it in his time at the Vic.
“That might be a carry over from last season with the relegation.
“This season it took us a while to get going, but once it’s clicked into place, everyone can see what we are capable of doing.
“The squad is right up there.
“You look at the bench and the talent and strength we’ve got there and that speaks wonders about the squad we have.
“When we’re on our passing game I don’t think there’s anyone can stop us.”