Hartlepool United to close out gruelling month of games at Walsall as Graeme Lee's side look to extend their unbeaten run
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Pools are enduring a testing month, both physically and mentally, with the trip to Walsall their eighth game in four weeks as the Saturday-Tuesday scheduling has been in full flow.
And not only that, but Pools have spent a number of hours on the team bus over the past month owing to a number of long away trips to the likes of Exeter, Crystal Palace, Crawley and Tuesday’s trip to Colchester where the squad did not arrive home until the early hours on Wednesday morning.
But despite such a taxing schedule, Pools have been able to remain unbeaten throughout, winning four and drawing four of their last eight League Two games.
It is a testament to both Lee and his squad for being able to cope with the demands of their schedule after their success in both the Papa John’s Trophy and the FA Cup have caused a backlog of fixtures, as well as postponements from earlier in the campaign due to COVID-19.
“It’s been a lot of games,” admitted Lee.
“It was a run of games where you looked at it and thought, can you get through this run of games with as few injuries as possible?
“It’s been a challenging one and you think you’re getting somewhere and the last week has just highlighted how difficult things are.
“But we’ve utilised the squad as well as we can and thankfully, I’ve got enough to fulfil the squad and team.”
Lee added: “I know how I feel from all the travelling so I can imagine how the players feel doing all the games on top of that.
“It’s been a challenging time. It feels like we’re never off the bus.
“We’ve made the decision to travel on the day [to Walsall] just to give them an extra day off the bus so we’ll assess that and see if that’s the right way but the lads seemed pleased about that.
“We got in the house at 4.30 on Wednesday morning so it is difficult, but that’s where we are.
“We’ve got one more game on Saturday to get through and then we can come off our feet for a couple of days and regroup.”
And Pools face a tricky test before they can put their feet up as they head to the Banks’s Stadium for what will be Michael Flynn’s first home game in charge of the Saddlers.
Flynn, who left Newport County earlier in the season, was appointed Walsall’s new manager last week and began his reign with a high profile win away at runaway League Two leaders Forest Green Rovers before a crushing 5-0 defeat at Swindon Town.
“Believe me I watched that game and the result said 5-0 but they could have taken the lead many times in that game,” said Lee.
“They’re aggressive, they’re on the front foot, they want to go forward. They’ve had a new manager come in and they had an unbelievable result the week before against Forest Green. So it’s going to be a test.”