Date: 18th February 2014 at 8:59am
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Manager Colin Cooper has said he’s looking forward to an ‘exciting’ game against Southend tonight because it’s the perfect opportunity to close the gap on them.

Six points separate the two sides in 7th and 8th place, and Southend are on the cusp on the play off positions which is where we’d quite like to be come the end of the current campaign, so picking up the victory tonight is crucial to us achieving that especially as a few of the sides above us do have a game in hand as well.

Speaking to the Hartlepool Mail Cooper said it was vital that we maintained our three match unbeaten run, and two successive back to back victories over Dagenham and Redbridge and Newport County when we face Southend because we really need to keep that winning momentum going if we are to achieve our aims of having a stab at going up this season.

‘It will be quite an exciting fixture. Judging by what happened at the weekend, Phil will be disappointed as losing from a winning position isn’t easy to take. It’s a quick turnaround this week and our focus has to be on resting, recovering, eating and sleeping. We have a fice hour coach journey. That is the hard ask, but it’s about doing the right things.’

Cooper says when fixtures come like this it’s not about trying to tweak things so to speak on the training ground, or work on new things, it really is about recovery first and foremost, so the players are fresh and can put in the leg work that gives rise to the moments of quality.

We do have injury issues though. Neil Austin will be missing as he hasn’t recovered from his toe problem, and it’s expected he will also miss the Northampton game next Saturday, so Jordan Richards is expected to keep his first team place as his deputy.

Michael Duckworth, despite being on the bench following his recovery from a double hernia operation in our last match, is again not expected to start, but substituted Luke James who suffered a dead leg in our last match is expected to partner Marlon Harewood up front again after recovering sufficiently.

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