Hartlepool United: John Hughes plans to change tactics

John Hughes

Hartlepool manager John Hughes has admitted he may have to change his tactics in a bid to avoid relegation.

Pools have not scored in their last six matches and Saturday's 0-0 draw with play-off chasing Walsall left them at the bottom of League One.

Hughes told BBC Radio Tees: "With six games to go we might have to fly by the seat of our pants and play an expansive style that may leave us exposed.

"But we have to score a few goals to pick up three points."

Hartlepool have been playing with five in midfield, but with his side now six points from safety, the Scot acknowledged he has little option other than to switch to 4-4-2.

"There's no point shying away from it, we've not got that goal threat - that prolific goalscorer," he said.

"There's a number of reasons for playing the system we play. We've got [defender] Sam Collins, who's 35, has been playing twice a week, and has possibly been our best player for the last couple of months.

"And we've got Ritchie Humphreys, who's also 35, in midfield, and that's why we play an extra man in midfield - to screen big Sam, give him a hand, play that front sweeper role, and go and help Ritchie.

"It suits us, keeps us in the game, gives us a very solid shape and makes us hard to beat.

"In the second half we open up and try and win it, and we did that [against Walsall] who were meant to come here and turn us over, and yet we probably had the best chance of the game, when Tony Sweeney's header brought a great save off their goalkeeper.

"It was a spirited performance - much better than the other night at Oldham - but at this time of the year we need to win football games."

He added: "Sometimes prolific strikers go through barren spells when they don't know where the next goal is going to come from, and it can be the same with teams.

"It's unfortunate it's happening now, but it's no slight on any of the players - guys like Stevie Howard and Charlie Wyke are working their socks off."

Pools next face in-form MK Dons on Good Friday, but Hughes said his players should be inspired by the prospect.

"Bring it on - honestly. They're a great football team, but bring it on. We're down and out, so we have nothing to lose," he said.

"I've still got great belief. Who says in football you can't win six on the bounce? I'll try and put that message in the dressing room."