Hartlepool United manager Ronnie Moore said his “shouldn’t fear anyone” after their narrow FA Cup defeat at the hands of Championship club Derby County.
Pools return to league action for the first time in almost a month tomorrow against promotion-chasing Wycombe Wanderers.
Wycombe had an impressive FA Cup result last weekend, a 1-1 draw against Premier League outfit Aston Villa, but Moore hopes his side’s fortunes will change this weekend after conceding late winners in their last two games.
He said: “We are hoping so, but we have got another very very difficult game. They are a good side, Wycombe.
“They held a Premier League side to a draw last week and their away form is good, but, like I say, we show them a lot of respect, we know all about them, but we shouldn’t fear anyone.”
Pools’ last league game was a 2-1 defeat against table-toppers Plymouth on December 19, after weather and cup commitments saw four league games postponed.
Darren Bent’s late winner knocked Pools out of the FA Cup last weekend, but Moore believes a similar performance will mean a positive result for his side tomorrow.
“I don’t think we have played a league game for a month, but I think our last two home games there have been encouraging signs on how we have played, although the results haven’t been right,” said Moore.
“We have conceded late in the last two home games, so we need to cut that out, but a similar performance to what we did against Derby should be enough for anybody at this level. “
Moore also said that his men’s performance against Derby has improved the confidence in the squad.
“The quality that they (Derby) have got, the three strikers that played against us are probably worth £12million, so I think we can only take a lot of credit at how we have performed,” he added.
“To see how gutted they were conceding a goal with three minutes to go shows how well they have played.”
Wycombe are sixth in League Two, inside the play-off places, and travel to Villa Park for their FA Cup replay three days after facing Pools. Moore said: “What we have to do is make sure they know they are in a game. They are going to be coming here and we have got to make sure we are playing to our capabilities.
“We have to put pressure on them, squeeze them and stop them from playing because we are hopeful their minds are going to be somewhere else, but if they’re not we have got to make sure we are 100 per cent focused on the game that’s ahead of us.”
Wycombe go into the game with one of the best defensive records in League Two, particularly away from home, having conceded just six times in their 11 matches on the road this season.
Moore said: “It is a fantastic record, but we have got to get back to scoring goals – we have created one or two chances against Derby.
“It is very difficult because we haven’t scored too many goals, have we?”
Moore said earlier this week that it would be difficult to leave players out after their Cup performances, but now admits he may make one or two changes.
“We can’t be sentimental,” he said.
“You have to go with the side that you think will win and will give you a better opportunity, and if that means one or two have to come out then they have to come out.
“It would be unfortunate, but sometimes you have got to make decisions you have to go by an instinct.”
Matthew Bates, Carl Magnay, Billy Paynter, Harry Worley and Michael Duckworth all remain sidelined through injury, but new loan signing Nathan Thomas is in contention to play.
Moore did admit, however, that “one or two” of his injured players may return to reserve-team action on Wednesday.