SHEFFIELD United’s high-flying players have been warned that Hartlepool are capable of dealing their automatic promotion hopes a crushing blow at Victoria Park this afternoon.
Danny Wilson, the United manager, spent 30 months in charge of the North-east club earlier in his career.
And, speaking ahead of the visit to Neale Cooper’s side, Wilson revealed he has left his players under no illusions about the threat their latest opponents pose.
“Usually they are very strong at home and they’re always a tough nut to crack,” Wilson said last night. “Maybe they’ll have no fear because they won’t be going down but might find getting into the play-offs difficult.
“But that could make them even more dangerous. Doubly so perhaps.”
“There’s always something to play for in football though,” added Wilson. “People who say otherwise just don’t understand a professional’s mentality.”
United climbed to second in the table - two points clear of third-placed Sheffield Wednesday - following their midweek victory over Chesterfield.
Hartlepool, by contrast, appear to be fighting purely for pride after a run of one win in six has left them 11th.
United beat Hartlepool 3-1 at home in December but required penalties to reach the second round of the Carling Cup when they travelled to Victoria Park in August.
Wilson, who hopes Richard Cresswell (facial injury) and Harry Maguire (virus) will both be declared available for selection, appeared to indicate he has been monitoring the progress of Sunderland’s Ryan Noble when he namechecked the teenager after being asked to highlight those areas where Cooper’s squad present the greatest danger.
“They’ve got a lad on loan - Noble - who we know quite well,” Wilson said. “Tony Sweeney has got a terrific engine.
“Andy Monkhouse is someone people know well from being at Rotherham and he’s technically as good as anything in this division.”