MIKE FLYNN SAYS: Return of the crocks will add extra bite
9:50am Saturday 15th February 2014 in Latest Football
TODAY finds us in the North East at Hartlepool and we’re hoping that the weather is better up here than it has been back home!
We travelled up yesterday morning and stayed in Middlesbrough last night and we’re all looking forward to getting out there and playing in a competitive match for the first time this month.
I wrote about our frustrations with the situation at Rodney Parade last week and there’s no point me going on about the pitch again. It is what it is. It’s a bad situation but there’s nothing we can do.
We’ve just got to train hard and get ready for the next game when it comes and that’s exactly what we’ve done this week.
The one positive of having all these games postponed is that our injured players have had more time to get back to fitness and they can help us get back in the race for the play-offs now.
We’ve taken 22 players on this trip so it’s a massive squad compared to a lot of the games this season.
That obviously means that there will be a few players sat in the stands watching and not very happy.
Hopefully I’m not one of them but the gaffer makes his decisions and we as players have just got to get on with it, whether we agree with it or not.
I’m sure the gaffer will be putting a lot of thought into his team selection and running through different scenarios of what could happen during the game.
And hopefully he has to put a lot of thought into every team selection because we’ve definitely had more than our fair share of injuries for one season.
With Byron Anthony breaking his leg, Chris Zebroski busting his kneecap and Christian Jolley, Max Porter and Aaron O’Connor suffering with their groins (stop sniggering at the back) it’s been a bit of a nightmare on that front.
Now we’ve also got both our goalkeepers out for a month as well but in Elliot Parish the gaffer has gone out and got us a top notch replacement and I’m sure he’ll show the fans what he can do at Victoria Park today.
Azza is nearly back now and Byron, Max and Jolls are in the squad as well but the real boost this week is that Zebs is back in training and could play a part today.
He is still our top scorer with seven goals, the same number as Conor Washington was on when he left us last month, and we’ve really missed him since his horrible injury at Braintree way back in November.
He started the season in superb form and with Azza also not far away and Jolls and Danny Crow fighting for a place up front with our new arrivals Aaron Holloway, Rene Howe and Shaun Jeffers the competition for places up front is going to be unbelievable.
And it’s the same in central midfield where me, Max, Ryan Burge, Lee Minshull, Adam Chapman and our skipper David Pipe can all play.
But with our backlog of fixtures that competition for places is exactly what we need.
We all know now that we have to perform when we get the chance because if we don’t there will be two or three other ready to grab that shirt off our backs.
We haven’t really had that for most of the season so it shows you how well we’ve done up to now and it can only be good as we enter the last few months of the season.
We know today will be tough because Hartlepool are a good side and are just one point below us in the table, even though we’ve got four games in hand on them.
Colin Cooper was my old manager at Bradford and I think he’s done a superb job at Hartlepool.
I’ve got a lot of respect for him and the way he works. He’s really clued up and I think he’s got a really bright future in the game.
I really enjoyed playing under him at Bradford and after Saturday I’ll be wishing him all the best for the rest of the season.
We last played them at home in November when they were riding high and we put in a good performance that night to pick up a clean sheet and three points.
Hopefully we can do the same this afternoon to complete the double over Pools.