RONNIE Moore is under no illusions how big this week is for under pressure Hartlepool United with back-to-back home matches against promotion chasing sides, writes Richard Mennear.
At Victoria Park tonight Pools take on a Northampton Town side who have won five league matches on the spin ahead of Stevenage visiting on Saturday.
Moore was hoping for at least seven points this week but the 1-0 defeat at Portsmouth put an end to that, with his side nine points from safety in Sky Bet League Two.
Moore said: “We would loved to have got nine points this week, or even seven, but that won’t happen now and we can’t do anything about it.
“The two games coming up, starting with Northampton Town tonight, are massive for our season.
“There is no doubt about that.
“We’d have loved to get seven points even but that is a really hard ask when you haven’t been winning games.
“But trying to get them and trying to perform is the big thing.
“We have two very interesting and big games ahead of us and two very different games too,” added Moore, who could switch back to a 4-3-3 formation on home soil tonight.
He played 3-5-2 at Fratton Park but could revert back to a front three, with Jonathan Franks restored to the team.
Ahead of tonight’s match, Northampton boss Chris Wilder has heaped praise on Moore insisting Pools wouldn’t be fighting relegation if he had been in charge since the start of the season.
“Ronnie Moore has been an outstanding manager and he’s turned it around at every club that he’s been at,” said Wilder.
“Obviously he’s had an impact there because their results and performances have improved but they’re in a situation where they can’t wait to go on a winning run, it needs to happen now.
“If they’re to survive they need to put a good few wins together and the game against us is massive for them.
“If he [Moore] had been in charge from the start of the season then I don’t think they would be in the position they are in now.
“Ronnie knows his football and he’s brought some strong boys in during January to go with the more technical players that they already had at the club.
“They are in a similar position to the one we were in 12 months ago and nobody enjoyed playing us at that time because we were fighting for our lives.
“So these games are often just as tough as the ones that you play against teams from the top five of the division.”
Moore is set to be without Matthew Bates (dead leg) while Tommy Miller (calf) and Stuart Parnaby (knee) remain out.
Zander Diamond misses the trip to the North East with a hamstring injury but former Pools left-back Evan Horwood is set to start for Northampton, 11th in League Two, after missing the 5-1 drubbing earlier in the season at Sixfields Stadium with tendonitis.
Pools (likely 4-3-3): Flinders, Duckworth, Harrison, Mirfin, Austin, Featherstone, Woods, Tshibola, Franks, Fenwick, Morgan.
Subs (from): Maxted, Richards, Holden, Nearney, Jones, Walker, Compton, Harewood.
Northampton (likely 4-2-3-1): Duke, Moloney, Cresswell, Collins, Horwood, D’Ath, Taylor, Byrom, Holmes, O’Toole, Richards.
Subs: Carter, Bodin, Hackett, Tozer, Snedker, Toney, Newey.