Hartlepool manager's glass is half full as pressure builds

Hartlepool United manager Chris Turner is thinking positive thoughts as his team aim to end their baron spell on the road at one of the fortresses of League One, Carrow Road.

Hartlepool United manager Chris Turner is thinking positive thoughts as his team aim to end their baron spell on the road at one of the fortresses of League One, Carrow Road.

The north east side are without an away win since mid-October and will be travelling to play Norwich City - who will be aiming for a club record 11th successive home win in one season.

Turner said: "You like to think positively. There's a great spirit among the players, you only have to speak to them or watch them in training to see that.

"If they weren't creating chances you've got problems, but they are. We're playing some good football as we've seen in the last three games.

"All the time, it's about keeping people going and remaining positive. We've got to get through this period like every team does in a season and then starting winning football matches again."

Hartlepool are without a win in four matches and face the prospect of playing the Canaries, their title rivals Leeds United and play-off chasing Southampton over the next fortnight.

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That run of forthcoming fixtures prompted United's home clash with fellow strugglers Gillingham on Tuesday to be billed a must-win game - from which Turner's side salvaged a 1-1 draw. However, the Hartlepool manager believes the extra pressure on the game was unhelpful.

He said: "People put unnecessary pressure on saying it was a must-win game against Gillingham and it's the end of the season if we lose and we're going down. It's not really needed. However, that's part of football management nowadays.

"I'd be lying if I said the pressure never gets to you, of course it does because you put pressure on yourself. OK, recent results are not going well, don't get me wrong.

"But we're in League One competing and we're as good as 10 or 12 clubs in this division."

United's players will come up against one of their former team-mates at Carrow Road tomorrow, in the shape of centre-half Michael Nelson - who scored an acrobatic bicycle kick in City's 2-0 win at Victoria Park at the end of August.

"Michael (Nelson) was a great servant to this club," said Turner. "I'm sure he's well thought of by the supporters.

"I know when players come back, fans don't like to see them do well against the club and he obviously took a bit of stick during the home game.

"But Michael has been a great professional. His first game at Norwich was a tough one, the thrashing at home by Colchester. But they've all recovered from that and it's good to see him playing and doing well. Obviously on Saturday, we want to give him a runaround ourselves."

Norwich's leading scorer Grant Holt - who has 23 goals to his name this season - misses the game through suspension and as the man who brought the striker into the professional game, Turner knows what City will be missing.

He said: "I think Grant Holt is a fantastic centre-forward. I signed him for Sheffield Wednesday, he came from non-league. He's a powerful, strong boy and he's a player who is very difficult to handle. But Norwich being Norwich, they've got other players there who can cause problems as they have done in his absence before.

"It's a plus he's not playing, don't get me wrong. But I do expect whoever fills his shoes to cause us problems as well. Wes Hoolahan in midfield is a fantastic player. He'll need closely marking."

James Brown is Turner's only major absentee, with the forward still two weeks away from full fitness after suffering another knee injury.