Hartlepool United face promotion favourites Portsmouth and Plymouth and Salford City FA Cup replay in seven days

Rhys Oates puts Pools ahead at Salford City
Rhys Oates puts Pools ahead at Salford City

Hartlepool United boss Ronnie Moore says he and his side are braced for another huge week of the season.

Pools were on the south coast today for a clash with fifth-placed Portsmouth at Fratton Park.

Hartlepool United boss Ronnie Moore

Hartlepool United boss Ronnie Moore

After returning in the early hours of tomorrow the squad will be back in for a training session on the Sabbath as they build towards an FA Cup replay against Salford City.

And Pools follow Tuesday’s potential banana skin against the non-league outfit with a showdown with promotion favourites Plymouth Argyle.

Pools could not have been faced with a more arduous week.

Few will expect anything other than Saturday defeats against Pompey and the Pilgrims, who went into today’s programme as one of three sides level at the top on 40 points.

But Tuesday night is a must-win match for Pools, who will face Derby County in round three should they beat the Evo Stik Northern Premier Division side.

BT Sport are sending their cameras to Victoria Park anticipating an upset.

And Moore says the events of 12 months ago, when Pools went out to a side from the same league as Salford - Blyth Spartans came to the Vic and won 2-1 - should act as an incentive to the home club.

The Pools chief blasted Pools after their 1-1 draw at Moor Lane though he did admit the conditions were a mitigating factor.

“I don’t know if I’ve seen a response in training,” said Moore.

“But we have shown we can pass the ball better and move it about, that was the big thing the other night.

“The pitch wasn’t great and I have to give them a bit of lee-way for that but Salford played it better than we did.

“But we are at home now, so it’s down to us to do the job

“We know what happened last time we had a televised FA Cup tie at Victoria Park.

“We have to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Moore admitted there was a bit of frustration that they missed out on a “massive” club in the third round draw, though Derby are one of the best teams outside the top flight.

“When our number came out first, we are at home, then you want a big, big tie,” said the boss.

“You think ‘there are a million teams there that could make us a few bob’.

“It’s disappointing, we were looking for a massive club, a Man City, Man U, Liverpool, Everton, but Derby are a big club.”

League Two against the Championship is not as tough a match as if Pools had Premier opposition.

Derby have already lost at a League Two club this season, ironically Pools’ hosts today, Portsmouth, in the Capital One Cup.

However, that was in the early days of Paul Clement’s reign at Pride Park and the former Real Madrid coach has since taken County into the promotion frame.

“It all depends on what sort of team they play,” said Moore. “Paul Clement has done a fantastic job since he went in there.

“It will be tough, whatever their team, I’ve watched a bit of them this season.

“They have some quality players and it will be a great game.

“It will come down to what happens on the day but it’s one to think about only if we beat Salford.

“It’s a big week for us, we know what we need to do to win the game, but that’s Tuesday, first up is the job of going to Portsmouth.

“It doesn’t get much harder than having to go to Fratton Park and trying to get a win there.”