Ryan Donaldson is desperate for an FA Cup reunion with Newcastle United - but he knows Pools can’t overlook minnows Kidsgrove in the next round.
Hartlepool take on the Evo-Stik West Division side at the Super 6 Stadium on Saturday, with a place in the first round proper at stake.
And while Donaldson has eyes for a trip to St James’s Park, where he started his career, the wideman knows there’s a lot of work to be done to open up that opportunity.
“Obviously Newcastle away is the dream for me but we’ve got to get past Kidsgrove Athletic first,” said Donaldson.
“Then you’ve got to look for a big draw in round one then you’re looking to get to the third round where you can get the likes of Liverpool away or Manchester United.
“They’re the dream aren’t they? Everyone loves the FA Cup.”
While promotion remains the number one priority for Matthew Bates’ men this season, a run in the cup would not go amiss. The finances of the competition are a big plus for any side at National League level, but from a playing perspective the draw has the chance to throw up games that dreams are made of for players.
When asked whether the players see the competition as a priority, Donaldson said: “Certainly, everyone dreams of getting to the third round.
“I’ve been lucky enough in my career to get a couple of really big ties and it just gives you momentum for the whole season.
“The longer you stay in it, obviously you get a backlog of games, but to get drawn against a big club is huge for the fans, the players.
“I don’t know the last time the club had a run so it’s massive, another competition, another game we want to win and we’ll see what happens. We’re taking it really seriously.”
At this stage of the competition last year, Pools had enough to see off an eighth tier side - South Shields - on their way to a first round knockout by Morecambe.
Donaldson thinks Kidsgrove will see this game, especially at the Vic, as their cup final and Pools need to be prepared for that.
“I’m really looking forward to it. They’ve done really well to get to this round and will be coming full of confidence, it’ll be a tough game,” he said.
“Every game is tough and if we train well and do our jobs properly we should have enough but it’s easy to say that.”
Donaldson, set to again start at right wing-back, continued: “We will certainly be ready for them. The gaffer went to watch them last week and he’s told us what they’re about.
“They’ll have strengths, any team that gets to the fourth round qualifying must have some quality and I’m sure they’ll have threats all over.
“It’s just down to us really, these are the games you take it into your own hands and if we’re good and we’re on it we should win.
“That’s a different challenge all together from coming here but it’s just another challenge and we’ve got to overcome it.”