GIVEN their fragile situation, John Hughes admits he is wary of imposing on his Hartlepool United players.

Since his appointment in November, Hughes has taken a step back and looked at his players from a bit of a distance, allowing them to try and impress him and express themselves in the process.

His long-term plan will be administered when he gets the chance to change and revamp the squad.

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But, with this current crop of players – with only two wins recorded this season – Hughes isn’t going in and beating them with a stick in training.

“It’s about mindset,’’ he said. “I’m caught between a rock and a hard place and I don’t want to put expectations on them. What I’ve seen since I came here, I’ve been very careful, but cautious.

There’s a lack of confidence, so I’m letting them go out there and express themselves and be natural.

“If I put that together with my style of football then they will enjoy it. I’m honest enough to know one or two see it different and think it will never get us results – but as long as I’m manager here it will get done my way and I want to bring a style of football to the club that will get supporters excited.

“Let’s be spirited and have values and pride – people will see us going in the right direction.

We have a fantastic training facility here and I want people to be here morning, noon and night.’’ Hughes hopes his players will utilise the facilities at Maiden Castle, where they are based throughout the week.

He wants to see them working extra sessions and going beyond what is expected of them to improve in the coming weeks and months.

“If you cannot hit the barn door from 20 yards, then go and practice,’’ he said. “If your touch isn’t good, go inside and practice.

“There’s a wall there, there’s equipment and I will be putting that stuff on for them.

“But at the moment I want to see them doing it. Those who want to do it for themselves.

If they are still here in the afternoon, then you are creating an environment in which they want to be.

“I’m seeing it happen. But instead of going in and setting the rules, I’m standing back and watching and learning.’’ Pools’ reserve side were yesterday thumped 5-0 at Mansfield Town.