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Hartlepool v York preview
COLIN COOPER hopes the arrival of three new signings in the past ten days will be a boost to the whole Hartlepool United squad.
Pools take on York at Victoria Park this afternoon amid a poor start to the new year.
In 2014, Pools have lost to Bury, Rochdale and Fleetwood and have yet to score.
He hopes the signings of Marlon Harewood, Jack Barmby and Luke Williams will help his side stop the rot and start a climb up the League Two table.
Cooper has never lost any faith in his squad, and sees the potential within the ranks.
But he is sure the arrival of the attack-minded trio – who are all in line to start today – will give everyone a lift.
“I would have no problem in playing them straight away, both are talented boys and I’d like to think that their arrival means the boys here think they have to up their game and say ‘I make sure I’m on the teamsheet on Saturday and not them’,’’ he mused.
“Going back to when I started this job and I refer to raising the bar, raising standards in training and players own standards – that’s life, that’s football.
“You should want to trample over your grandma to get into the team, that’s football, that’s life.
“It gives us some nice, exciting options in areas and having lost Michael Duckworth, Jordan Richards and James Poole we are a couple of players down. We aren’t accumulating players, but instead backing up what we have got and we are trying to make people who are here better.’’
Harewood had the unenviable task last weekend of playing up front alone for 87 minutes after right-back Jordan Richards was sent-off in defeat at Fleetwood.
He should start today alongside Luke James in a 4-4-2 formation and Cooper added: “As soon as Marlon came in we all got a lift, then what happened with Jordan in the first minute things went flat.
“These two players (Barmby and Williams) excite me and I‘m not getting players in to make people happy, it’s to make a real impact in how we try to do things.
“They can both handle a football – are they ready to handle the physicality and intensity of a League Two match on Saturday afternoon? That’s the big question.
“Luke has played quite a lot of football, Jack not as much.’’
Williams has long been in and around the first team at Boro, but Barmby has yet to step up from under-18 and under-21 football at Old Trafford.
And Cooper is looking forward to seeing how the pair shape up from this afternoon against Nigel Worthington’s side who will be backed by almost 1,000 supporters.
“Is Jack ready for League football and is Luke willing for League Two football? If they both are then they will be very exciting,’’ added Cooper.
“That’s not without the players we have in those areas. Are they going to raise their game and fight for their places?
“Or are they going to moan that someone else has come in? We want serious competition and provide our club with some exciting young players.
“Allied to that the older players have to become real positive mentors in the team or not in the team.
“I just want Hartlepool to progress and, while everyone up to Christmas and New Year was very positive, the three negative results see people become a little negative. I’m not, I still see us not far off from where we want to be.
“To get people back on that boat again we need some positive results.’’
After back to back 3-0 home defeats to Bury and Rochdale at Victoria Park, Cooper is hoping his players will show the sort of form that made them play-off contenders before the turn of the year.
Pools ended 2013 with positive performances at Chesterfield and Morecambe, but have since hit the buffers.
“It’s got a lot riding on it only as far as the fact that myself and the players are keen on getting our 2014 up and running,’’ added Cooper.
“We are only in January and we’ve had a bad three weeks.
“In the two home games our performances were fine but the results not good.
“It’s going to be a good game, I’m looking forward to seeing York bring a lot of fans up and filling the away end and hopefully making it a good atmosphere.
“I want everyone to have the confidence I still have in this group of players. Those three results does not change things for me.
“My job is to keep them feeling good about themselves, eliminate mistakes and try to get us to capitalise on any opportunities we create.
“I’m looking to see us get our noses in front and see where that may take us.’’