COLIN COOPER only looks at what’s happened to his former club to see how swiftly fortunes change.

While Hartlepool United are suffering a run of four successive defeats, Middlesbrough have won three in a row. There’s a spring in Riverside step, but a cloud hanging over Victoria Park.

It’s not that long ago that the roles were reversed, as Boro struggled to score let alone win, as Pools looked set for a play-off challenge.

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Cooper was as disappointed as anyone at the manner of last weekend’s flat performance and defeat at Portsmouth, but won’t allow any negative feeling to linger ahead of tomorrow’s game with Chesterfield at Victoria Park.

“It’s not the most testing period for me – we went eight games without a win at the start of the season,’’ he said.

“I would like everyone to be on side, people are trying to turn it into a negative fest, it won’t happen. We are fine, we are OK.

“Two home games, two away games we’ve got nothing and I accept that. But, as we have seen down the road and I’m pleased for Middlesbrough, three wins on the bounce and everything quickly changes.

“Where we are in the table is where we are and I don’t look at anything from a negative point of view. We are not far from winning games, as shown we are not far from losing. That’s where we are as it stands.

“I think people tend to want to turn things negative and it won’t happen.’’ After thumping Bristol Rovers at Victoria Park on March 15, Pools looked well set for a play-off challenge. Instead it’s gone the opposite way and they now sit in 15th spot, some 11 points short of the top seven.

They should still achieve Cooper’s revised target of a top-half finish and he said: “I look at the table and everyone wants to win and get past a certain place to feel more relaxed. But ask anyone from Accrington down to Torquay where they would like to be now and they would like to be where we are.

“We have a smashing game to come, Chesterfield are one of the division’s best and we gave them a heck of a run for their money on Boxing Day. They have their own agenda, we do too. I’d like everyone to come on Saturday and see a really good game of football.

“If it doesn’t go how you want them to, there’s still four games of the season to go.

“We are more than capable of winning two or three of the last few games. But start worrying about negative things, negative things were happen.

“Yes, I was disappointed last weekend at Portsmouth, but I’ve not been disappointed that often.’’ Pools have lost their last two home games, going down 4-2 to Mansfield after leading 2-1, before Cheltenham sneaked a 1-0 win.

There’s still two more home games to come after this one and Cooper said: “Let’s not make sure people aren’t bringing negativity to it. We have five games, need positive results and the quicker we get them great.

“We are more than good enough. At the league table, we get positive results in two or three and we finish top ten. My challenge is to finish top half.

“We have showed we probably aren’t just good enough, not scored enough goals and not kept enough clean sheets in order not to be in the upper reaches.

“But we have showed more than enough to make sure we aren’t in the bottom echelons.

“All we have to do is make sure we get a couple of positive results and calm everyone down.’’ Cooper will have Scott Flinders available tomorrow after he was ruled out last weekend with a migrane and Andy Rafferty deputised with some credit.

Andy Monkhouse (hamstring) and Marlon Harewood (ankle) both trained yesterday and should be in contention.

There will be a first start for Sunderland centre-half Scott Harrison, as Christian Burgess is ruled out.

“He was carried off last week, has been back at Middlesbrough all week having his ankle assessed and will struggle for the weekend,’’ admitted Cooper.

“He has been on the phone saying he wants to be back and we can hope he will be soon. You have to be careful and if the ankle recovers, then there’s still three weeks of the season available for him.’’