John Hughes encouraged by Hartlepool United tenacity

Manager John Hughes believes the next two weeks will be vital if the League One strugglers are to have any chance of avoiding relegation.

Bottom-of-the-table Pools secured a draw at Walsall on Saturday, their first point since Hughes took control two weeks ago.

The Scot told BBC Tees: "The result will lift us and now we have two weeks working hard on the training ground.

"It's coming together and there's still plenty of games to go."

With just one win from their 20 league games this season United are 10 points adrift of safety, with Hughes already admitting they need a miracle to survive.

But he has been encouraged by the improvement shown by his players at Walsall, and with no game this week because of the FA Cup second round ties, believes they will be further improved by a prolonged spell on the training ground.

"It was important to get something from the [Walsall] game because it gives the players a little lift, and the break gives us a chance to get them on the training pitch and work very, very hard," he said.

"It's very important we become better in terms of organisation, set-plays and all that stuff.

"I really feel for the players, I'm in there working with them every day and I see the spirit and tenacity and energy they put into training, and yet because of the position [in the league] we're in, there is a little bit of apprehension in their game."