HARTLEPOOL boss Mike Newell is so desperate to see this afternoon's game beat the freeze he joined in yesterday's clear-up operation.

The Victoria Park surface was covered in six inches of snow yesterday morning, but a day of hard work has increased the chances of getting the go-ahead.

"The pitch is fine under the snow. It's just a case of clearing it and then covering the pitch and hopefully we'll be OK,'' said Newell.

Newell was joined by youth team players, supporters and Mayor Stuart Drummond in clearing the ground of snow - a job which was finished close to 7pm last night under floodlight.

And the Pool chief, whose side are on a six-game unbeaten run, wants his reward against Torquay this afternoon. "We are on a good run and no-one wants to see games called off,'' he insisted.

"We are playing well and not conceding many goals. We want it to continue.''

Pool are an amazing 1-20 shot with the bookmakers to be promoted this season and with 60 points in the bag already, a further eight wins from their remaining 17 games should be enough to clinch a top-three spot.

Torquay boss Leroy Rosenior said: "We are going there confident, not to play the role of gallant losers. We are going to be positive.

"Hartlepool are consistently the best team in the league. Mike Newell has carried on the good job that Chris Turner was doing and that is a difficult thing in itself.''

New Leyton Orient defender Justin Miller last night claimed he had snubbed a move to Pool in favour of a move to London.

Miller was freed by Ipswich this week and returned to Brisbane Road, where he enjoyed a three-month loan spell this season.

He was outstanding in Newell's first game in charge of Pool at Orient and said: "Carlisle was too far away. They wanted to fly me up but I wasn't too keen and Hartlepool were interested but they wanted me to go up there before I had talks with Orient and I wanted to sort things out quickly.''

Meanwhile, former Pool loan defender Brian Barry Murphy has moved to Sheffield Wednesday on an 18-month deal, teaming up again with Chris Turner.

He moved to Pool in November, but played only one game for Turner before the manager departed for Hillsborough. He returned to Preston after making nine appearances at Pool.

* Pool's youth team game with Darlington, which was scheduled to be played at Peterlee this morning, has been frozen off. It will now be played on Saturday, February 15.

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