WHILE to some it could be viewed as a slur or an insult, for Neil Austin, being left out of the Hartlepool United team has proved the proverbial jolt into action.

The consistent right-back didn't start this season well and was dumped from the starting XI following the 5-0 whacking at Notts County.

But he was soon back in the team, albeit in central midfield for a game, before being reinstalled to his normal spot.

And since then he has steadily got back to the form which made him one of the mainstays in the Pools' defence.

He will start tonight's rearranged game at Leyton Orient, after he scored from the penalty spot in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Doncaster.

"I was taken out of the team and the gaffer had a few words with me. No excuses, but it gave me a kick up the backside and I hope I've put a few good ones in since,'' he admitted.

"I wasn't playing well, I don't know why. You do all the same things, prepare right and it's down to form. Players do drop out of form.

"I was looking into the reasons why, you go home disappointed in yourself and it does start affecting your home life as well. The quicker you sort it out, the better it is for everyone.''

Austin, 29, is the old head of a relatively youthful back line, alongside Jack Baldwin, Peter Hartley and Darren Holden.

Pools have been performing better in the last couple of weeks, but results have remained disappointing and they are second bottom in League One.

On Saturday they conceded late on to miss out on victory, but Austin said: "The gaffer has told us to keep out heads up after a good performance. Morale is good in the camp, we were in on Monday to prepare for Tuesday's game and there is nothing wrong with morale at all.

"No-one is feeling sorry for ourselves, we feel we should be higher up and have the the players to do so.

"Hopefully we will get a game on Tuesday after what happened last time. We have put in some positive performances and hopefully carry that on at Orient.

"Sheffield United was a positive performance against a team who will be up there. It is frustrating for us all, but at least we are playing well and not getting turned over by a few goals like we have been.''

Pools will be without Evan Horwood (heel), Charlie Wyke (ankle cut), Andy Monkhouse (ankle ligaments) and Luke James (pelvis) tonight.

James Poole is likely to start on the left wing after a decent display as a substitute against Doncaster.

"We conceded late and it might be down to luck, we've hit the woodwork and can't finish games off,'' added Austin. "We've had too many games this season when we've taken the lead and gone on to lose, but we got a point this time.

"It does feel like a defeat. We need to start killing teams off and especially when we are on top - need to start taking chances. It was a good performance and it's a busy time. One win, and we will flow in more behind it. We stick together and stay positive.''