Senior pros can help Hartlepool Utd avoid the drop

John Hughes. Picture by FRANK REID
John Hughes. Picture by FRANK REID

JOHN Hughes is this week plotting a survival plan for Hartlepool United – and the club’s senior pros are at the forefront of his thinking.

The Scot started with five players in their 30s at Walsall on Saturday and duly came away with his first point as Pools boss.

One of Hughes’ first decisions in the hotseat was to recall Ritchie Humphreys to his starting line-up, while Sam Collins, another who was in and out of the team under Neale Cooper, has also started every game for the new man.

Steve Howard, Paul Murray and Andy Monkhouse completed that quintet of old heads utilised by Hughes, and he believes that is as good a blueprint as any for escaping the drop.

“I’ve got Big Sam, Ritchie, Muzza, Big Stevie all fighting their corners in there and that experience in the team is vital,” he told SportMail.

“I keep saying the supporters should realise that we have to take some things from the squad we have, use the experience in this situation we are in and we need to roll our sleeves up.

“I’m delighted with the effort and commitment the older players have showed out there for me.

“Sometimes your experienced boys take the hits and they have been in the game for a long time and are wise to it all.

“They don’t want a relegation on their CVs, where sometimes younger boys come in with a worry and a fear about the situation.”

Hughes is not afraid to to test the endurance of his old guard in the gruelling League One schedule.

And he insists their attitude to such rigours is testament to their desire.

“These guys who have played three games in a week I say thanks to them for their efforts and commitment,” he went on.

“We are talking about 35 year olds playing on a right heavy pitch and it’s their third game in a week.

“I’m grateful to the older boys for what they do - there’s a spirit there, I believe that.”

Pools are not in action this weekend and they will resume their survival quest at home to Stevenage a week on Saturday.