FOR Stephen Wright, football should be a routine affair - effort and commitment are the bare minimum. And after moving from Liverpool to Sunderland, there was a bit of a shift in emphasis in the outlook.

The defender went from Champions League nights to scrapping to stay in the Premier League.

And scrapping was the watchword at the Stadium of Light. The Black Cats, under Mick McCarthy, were a workmanlike side - traits and characteristics that epitomise the manager's teams.

Wright, now at Hartlepool United, has carried one of McCarthy's ideals with him ever since moving to Wearside.

"It's fundamentals that the gaffer has been talking about of late,'' he said. "Win your battles. Mick McCarthy had a good saying - kick, bollock and bite. And that's always stayed with me.

"The first time he said it I laughed my head off and Mick Wadsworth is the same here, he wants the fundamentals.''

Pools are at Scunthorpe today, with Wright likely to partner Peter Hartley in central defence, with Sam Collins suffering from a calf problem.

He's played across the back four in a number of positions since signing for Pools earlier this season.

"I was back in the middle last week, that's where I prefer, but I just want a run of games and play,'' he said. "I was in the team and then got injured, a clash of knees in training.

"We were off to Bournemouth and the gaffer said it would swell up with the journey and then we get there and test it when it would be worse after a long journey.

"But we got a good result down there and I've been trying to get back in.

"It's been a bit frustrating for me, I want to play, but they are a good bunch of lads here. We had a patch when we were under-achieving. We had a look at ourselves and said ‘listen, we want to get there'. We had a good chance to press on and get this at the next level.

"Everyone is beating each other in this league and three or four games, a few wins you are right in there.''

And Wright believes the tight-knit dressing room at Victoria Park and the strength of character within will help Pools this season.

A flying start has stuttered after a poor run in October, but Wright insists the spirit has never wavered.

"The lads here are first-class they really are,'' he said. "Everyone is wanting to push on, there's no one who you think you don't want him in the camp and I've been in that situation before. There's no bad eggs here.

"I hope I can bring something different to the team and there is a couple of nasty people in there. It's something you either have or not. You can be nasty on the pitch and a nice person off it and I try to do that.

"Some players don't have it in their nature to do it. You can train positional wise, tactics and the like but if it's not in your nature to be nasty it's not there is it.''

Pools yesterday signed 17-year-old Luke James on a professional contract. The winger has five goals in 11 youth team games this season.

Wadsworth's side have already lost at Glanford Park this season, going down in the JPT in August.

"Scunthorpe's results belie the good players they've got and we won't underestimate them - we saw how good they are earlier in the season,'' said Wadsworth.

"They've got very good movement and we've got to be on our toes.

"But our away form is very good.

"We've done well and there's no reason why that shouldn't carry on and I hope our players come out fighting after last Saturday's defeat against Stevenage when I thought we were very unlucky.''

Pools will be without goalkeeper Scott Flinders today, after he was sent-off last weekend.

Andy Rafferty will make his second League One start and Wadsworth said: "We decided not to appeal Scott's red card because it was better to take that punishment than risk any more.

"That doesn't change my thinking of the decision but it's gone now and Andy is ready to start and I've every confidence in him.

"We may, though, be without a keeper on the bench on Saturday.

"It's important that if you've got a capable goalkeeper then he's there and available - like Andy was last Saturday.

"From time to time I've taken the risk and gone without one to give me more options.

"Liam Mooney could possibly be on the bench but we'll decide on that.

"We need to use the disappointment of last weekend as well as the good second-half performance as a springboard and lift going into Scunthorpe, because we need a win.''