Graeme Lee previews last eight tie as Hartlepool United host Charlton Athletic in the Papa John's Trophy quarter final

Hartlepool United will look to make it three consecutive League One triumphs in the Papa John’s Trophy when they host Charlton Athletic in the quarter-finals of the competition.

By Joe Ramage
Monday, 24th January 2022, 4:45 pm

Pools take another break from league duty when they host The Addicks with Graeme Lee’s side looking to move to within 90 minutes of a Wembley final in April.

To do that however they must overcome Johnnie Jackson’s Charlton who represent another challenge against higher level opposition for Lee’s men.

But that shouldn’t faze Pools who have tended to fare better when the odds have been stacked against them this season.

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Hartlepool United return to EFL Trophy action when they host Charlton Athletic in the quarter-finals at the Suit Direct Stadium. Picture by FRANK REID

So far in this competition Pools have beaten League One side Morecambe on penalties in the group stages before taking out Sheffield Wednesday and Bolton Wanderers in the knockout phase.

Add in their scalps in the FA Cup this season against Wycombe Wanderers, Lincoln City and Championship side Blackpool and there is more than an err of confidence heading into the last-eight tie at the Suit Direct Stadium.

“I love the cups. It’s exciting for us all,” said Lee.

“The performances we’ve put into the cup games have been fantastic but I want them performances in the league.

Hartlepool United will be looking to claim another League One scalp in the Papa John's Trophy after their 1-0 win over Bolton Wanderers in round three. Picture by FRANK REID

“It’s weird, when you’re playing against teams from the leagues above the pressure comes off you a little bit and the mentality of the lads means they’ve got nothing to lose so can go into it with everything they can.

“It’s a great distraction. We’re looking forward to it. It’s an opportunity to get to Wembley so we’ll enjoy it.

“Both cups have been fantastic and the challenges we’ve had with the teams we have played have shown what we can do.”

Pools are one of three League Two sides who remain in the competition along with Sutton United and Harrogate Town who face off against one another in the last eight.

Elsewhere, Rotherham United host Cambridge United while Wigan Athletic welcome Arsenal U21’s to the DW Stadium for a place in the semi-finals.

Lee made eight changes to his team in the previous round against Bolton and could be set to do similar against Charlton following their 1-1 draw with Stevenage at the weekend with the Pools boss admitting he has players eager to prove their worth in the first team squad.

Lee also mixed things up with his system in that third round success over Ian Evatt’s Wanderers side by ditching the back five Pools have been synonymous with this season for a back four, and that is something else which Lee is considering.

“There’s been a lot of games. There’s lads busting a the gut to have the opportunity and Tuesday night is a fantastic opportunity to give these lads a game,” said Lee.

“It’s something I’ve pondered with [changing the system], I did the same against Bolton. You’re trying to get a bit more energy higher up the pitch and that flip just gets more people higher up the pitch.

“But they’re exciting games the cup games, they’re a distraction from the league. They’re games against top opposition. Charlton is going to be a very tough game and then Crystal Palace is an occasion and an unbelievable challenge for us.”

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