Humphreys making the most of his chance

HE'S played more games for Hartlepool United than anyone else and Ritchie Humphreys shows no signs of easing up.

After being a squad player in the last 18 months under both Mick Wadsworth and Neale Cooper, Humphreys has enjoyed a recent renaissance under John Hughes.

The 35-year-old has started all of Hughes' nine games in a central midfield role and has proved a key performer in the new system implemented by the Scot.

Since signing for Chris Turner in 2001, Hughes is the ninth different manager he has played under.

"I've enjoyed playing again and being in the side, it's been great for me since the gaffer come in,'' he admitted.

"I've tried all my career to do things the right way in day to day training and working hard in training to make sure you are ready when you are out of the team - the moment you get your chance or opportunity to get back in you have to be ready, be fit and sharp enough.''

Hughes has implemented a strong work ethic on his players and those principles suit Humphreys' outlook.

He added: "It's not just about proving yourself to a new gaffer, it's something you always have to do.

"As a professional footballer you can't just sit back and take it easy, you have to be ready to play every week and every day work to your maximum.

"You might have to adapt it a bit as you get older, but if you aren't ready then you won't get on in the game.''

With today's game against Colchester frozen off after a pitch inspection at Victoria Park yesterday morning, Pools have another free weekend.

They are next due in action on Tuesday evening at home to Bournemouth, but with Victoria Park covered in a thick layer of snow and the forecast remaining bleak, it will take some change in outlook for that to be on.

Pools have taken four points from their last two away games, a win at Sheffield United followed by a draw at Shrewsbury seven days' ago.

They are due to go to Portsmouth next Saturday, their first visit to Fratton Park since the 1970s.

But Pools remain snowed under at the foot of League One.

"I've enjoyed playing again, it's the best job in the world being a professional footballer,'' admitted Humphreys, with 526 Pools appearances to his name. "We are all hurting and not happy with how we have played at times and it's not nice to see the league table.

"We have an opportunity to change it and do something about our situation. Since the gaffer came in we have had a change in style of play and how we want to play.

"Some games are about digging in and showing grit and determination, working hard and encouraging.

"I said to some people that you need a catalyst - was our win at Sheffield United it? Time will tell, but I hope it is.

"We aren't going to win every game until the end of the season, but if we have a really good second half to the season then we have a chance.''

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