HARTLEPOOL United were back in training yesterday as they began early preparations for the crunch FA Cup tie against Blyth Spartans.
Pools boss Paul Murray has re-jigged the training schedule this week due to the second round cup match on Friday night and the players trained at Victoria Park on Sunday morning.
Murray has described the North East derby against non-league Spartans as a “huge game” and he is taking their threat very seriously.
But he is facing a selection headache with several first team players unavailable to play.
Scott Fenwick, signed recently from Dunston UTS and on-loan midfielder Matty Dolan are both cup-tied, while on-loan Sheffield United striker Joe Ironside is unavailable.
Murray has changes to make but he is confident Pools have enough about them to overcome the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League side in front of the live television cameras.
Despite being bottom of the Football League, Pools are the overwhelming favourites, but Spartans are on a good run of form and have won their last three matches.
Murray knows it will be far from easy.
“It is a huge game and I am very much looking forward to it and the players are positive and bright,” said Murray. “We know what they will be all about and what they want to do to us.
“We will work this week on what we are going to do.
“It’s a difficult time anyway for the club and Friday is a big game for all.
“We have players who are cup-tied, Scott and Matty are cup-tied, so we have decisions to make and changes to come.
“But we are strong enough to go and get a result.”
Newcastle United striker Adam Campbell is available for selection after being allowed to play in the cup clash by his parent club.
The match against Spartans at Victoria Park on Friday (KO 7.55pm) will be shown live on BBC Two.
Presenter Dan Walker will be pitch-side at The Vic with pundits Alan Shearer and Trevor Sinclair.
Meanwhile, former Manchester United and Everton defender Phil Neville will be on commentary duties.
It is the first time Pools have been selected for live television coverage in the FA Cup since they hosted Premier League West Ham United back in January 2009.
Murray’s side made it into the second round of the cup competition after beating East Thurrock United 2-0 while famed cup giantkillers Blyth beat Conference Premier side Altrincham 4-1.