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Humphreys upbeat over survival chances
RITCHIE Humphreys and Hartlepool United aren't fazed about the task ahead.
Pools take on Colchester United at Victoria Park this evening. Victory would cut the gap between the sides to five points, with the Us the team directly above the relegation line after their second win in a row at the weekend.
While Pools were losing at Doncaster, the Us were winning at out of sorts Stevenage.
Pools have 11 games left, and need seven wins - and tonight has to be one of them.
"Yes we can survive - one defeat won't derail us,'' insisted Humphreys. "I think there's a belief in the dressing room we can carry on what we have been doing.
"We've gone to the team at the top of the league and were comfortable and probably didn't do enough on the day.
"But in terms of survival, yes we can.
"We've gone to Doncaster and expected to get something - there's been a big turnaround in the outlook.
"At the training ground the other day, talking with the lads and I said we don't care who we play, I'm not fussed, bring on the next game.
"And that's not being arrogant or cocky, we want another game to come on and keep on winning again and not suffer any defeats until the end of the season.''
Such a belief wasn't there until the turn of the year.
But, after a seven-game unbeaten run, Pools have gave themselves a chance of survival.
It's one they are desperate to make the most of, although their cause hasn't been helped by other teams at the bottom also picking up points.
"It can be frustrating when you see other results come in, like last week after we won and others did at the same time, but we can only affect what we do,'' said Humphreys. "We lost at the weekend, we have more to do and there's plenty of cup finals left, important games against teams in and around us.
"We have all seen all the teams now and you can see there's not a lot between the teams in the division.
"There aren't many sports where competition lasts as long as ours does. There's always another game to come and, after winning at Sheffield United over Christmas we said we had to give ourselves a chance.
"We won at Portsmouth and got some momentum. Saturday at Doncaster was a blip and there's always a chance in football to take it on again.''
Humphreys, 35, has been a mainstay in the team of late, and tonight will be his 500th Football League career start and his 535th Pools appearance.
Until John Hughes' arrival in November, Humphreys only made sporadic appearances, but has been a regular since.
"I'm playing in midfield and being part of the team, doing a job, long may it continue,'' he said. "Sometimes the younger players do need a bit of guidance in there.
"I can bounce off their youth and dynamics they bring to the team.
"Colchester is an important one, teams that are around us it's important we take points off them, it's the same as Oldham next week and there's lots of games coming up.
"It's going to be interesting, I'm confident we can do it.
Hughes will give Simon Walton every chance to be fit this evening. The midfielder sat out of Saturday's defeat after feeling a hamstring, but is expected to start.
"We were miles off what we did last Tuesday against Crewe when we set a benchmark,'' said Hughes.
"If we want to stay in this division we have to keep those standards.
"We gave Simon Walton a fitness test before the game but we didn't want to risk it.
"He was just feeling it a wee bit. It's not a muscle injury, just a nerve. After another couple of days he'll be ready to go.''
Flinders; Austin Collins Hartley Horwood; Humphreys Walton Baldwin; Franks Poole; Wyke