Rhys Oates is not taking a starting spot for granted at South Shields.
The forward was one of Hartlepool United’s supersubs last Saturday at Solihull, where he came off the bench and scored the opener in a 2-1 win.
We have to take it very seriously – you can’t under-estimate any teamRHYS OATES
Given his sudden impact at Damson Park, you would expect him to start in the FA Cup trip to Mariners Park (kick-off 3pm).
“It was a great feeling [to score], I can’t quite remember if it was my first touch, I’m not sure,” he said. “You have to be ready at all times, I was in after half an hour against Barrow in the previous game after Ryan was injured.
“I was getting into the right positions and I think things are starting to come together for me now.
“Hopefully [I’ll be picked], I’ll see what happens.
“If not, I’ll keep working and make sure I’m ready if I’m called upon.”
Oates says Pools will be taking South Shields every bit as “seriously” as they would a National League fixtures.
The 22-year-old knows all about games against non-league opposition – two years ago, he scored and had an assist as Pools edged past Salford, but only just.
“You have to approach every game the same,” he said.
“We have to take it very seriously – you can’t under-estimate any team.
“You never know what can happen in the FA Cup, it’s a bit of a derby, I hear they get a few fans in, so it should be good.”
Pools – and Oates – are in good form, losing just one of their last nine games to move just two points from the play-offs, proof they have acclimatised to their new level.
“Definitely, I think we were getting used to the league and what it’s like.
“We’ve learned that we need to battle as well as getting it down and playing, we’ve done that a lot better in a our recent run. I think we’ll keep kicking on.”