Matthew Bates: Hartlepool United 'shackles are off' in League Two survival fight

Hartlepool's Rhys Oates sits dejected on the turf
Hartlepool United have slipped from 18th to 23rd since January

Hartlepool United "have the shackles off" in their bid to avoid relegation from the English Football League, says interim player-coach Matthew Bates.

Pools dropped into the League Two relegation zone on Saturday after a 2-0 defeat by Barnet, a result that leaves them two points behind Newport County.

Cheltenham and already-promoted Doncaster are the final two opponents.

"There's a mental change in attitude - we're chasing now, not being chased," Bates told BBC Tees.

"The shackles are off, you can't polish it. It's a mini league between three teams and we need to finish top of that."

New team at the helm

Billy Paynter
Billy Paynter has teamed up with Matthew Bates, Ian Gallagher and Stuart Parnaby to lead Pools

Bates, team-mate Billy Paynter plus coaches Stuart Parnaby and Ian Gallagher have taken charge in the wake of Dave Jones' exit from Victoria Park on Monday.

His departure ended a torrid spell for Pools, resulting in 13 points from a possible 51 and the tumble in the drop zone.

Survival is the one short-term goal for the quartet, and the message from chairman Gary Coxall has been - "do what you can".

"We've got no time for motivational talks or crisis talks, they have had that and it hasn't worked," Bates added. "Ultimately it's down to them. They know how much it means to everyone connected with Hartlepool.

"We're trying to prepare for Saturday and we'll leave no stone unturned. The players know what the need to do, to keep things simple.

"They'll be nervous, you can't hide from that or take that feeling away from them, so as long as we have a simple plan to fall back on we'll be right."

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