Hartlepool midfielder has no fear of Derby

Michael Woods
Michael Woods

Michael Woods says Hartlepool United have “nothing to fear” when they take on Derby County in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Pools are the rank outsiders for the third round tie at Victoria Park – Derby are flying in the Championship under Paul Clement.

I think we should go out and try to enjoy it.

Woods acknowledges Derby are a “brilliant side” – they are the leading scorers in the second tier of English football – but says there is no pressure on Pools.

“It’s a bonus to be in the third round – no-one would have expected us to get there,” the midfielder told SportMail.

“I’m sure the gaffer will pick our strongest side and we’ll be going all out to try to win it.

“Derby are a brilliant side.

“I think we should go out and try to enjoy it – it’s a home third round tie against a big club like Derby.

“But we’ll try to get into them and unsettle them.

“Derby have a lot of good players and have spent a lot of money on their squad.

“They are expected to win and whoever Paul picks it’s going to be a helluva test.

“But we have got to take the view we have nothing to fear – we are at the Vic with the Pools fans behind us.”

Clement, who took over at Pride Park in the summer following a sequence of top coaching jobs on the continent, has taken the Rams into the automatic promotion spots.

A place in the Premier League is the goal, though the Derby head coach will not want to fall at the first FA Cup hurdle after a early exit in the Capital One Cup at Portsmouth.

However, with a Championship game a week tonight against Reading, Clement is likely to rotate his squad this weekend.

Veteran former Sunderland and Aston Villa forward Darren Bent is set to lead the line but County could have a new forward by then.

Derby are being heavily linked with Wolves striker Benik Afobe, who is rated in the £12million bracket.