Sunderland Echo - - Sport -

Craig Har­ri­son will not fear Hartle­pool United’s test­ing FA Cup tie at South Shields to­mor­row.

The Pools boss says de­feat is not some­thing he is con­tem­plat­ing at a sold-out Mariners Park.

But, if the worst came to the worst and Pools were hum­bled by the red-hot cup ex­po­nents, then the club would move on to their Na­tional League pro­mo­tion goal.

To­mor­row’s fourth qual­i­fy­ing round as­sign­ment at the Evo-Stik North lead­ers has ‘ba­nana skin’ plas­tered all over it.

South Shields, FA Vase win­ners back in May at Wem­b­ley, have won 51 of their last 53 matches.

Are Pools scared of the trip to South Ty­ne­side?

“I hope not,” Har­ri­son said. “I am not into this fear of los­ing stuff.

“If you start wor­ry­ing about los­ing be­fore the game even kicks-off then it’s not a healthy state of mind to be in.

“It’s not some­thing I’m think­ing about – I’m con­cen­trat­ing on win­ning the tie, that’s the be-all and end-all.

“What’s the worst case sce­nario? We get beaten and we are out of the cup.

“We’d move on – win our next three games then we are in the top three in the Na­tional League. “But the bot­tom line to­mor­row is we want to win, full stop.” Har­ri­son says the Mariners, who will fea­ture for­mer Sun­der­land and Mid­dles­brough star Julio Arca in the heart of their mid­field, are in a “false” po­si­tion.

With prin­ci­pal strik­ers Carl Fin­ni­gan and Gavin Cog­don hav­ing plun­dered 76 goals in 109 ap­pear­ances, Shields have swept ev­ery chal­lenge aside, los­ing only once in 2017.

Har­ri­son has re­spect for the club who have elim­i­nated Dar­ling­ton and York in the last two rounds, and says he will be choos­ing his best XI.

“I in­tend to pick a team that will win the game, the strong­est team I have avail­able,” he said. “This is the most im­por­tant game for this club at this mo­ment in time.

“Once this is done and dusted the most im­por­tant game will then be Sut­ton next Satur­day – I don’t like look­ing be­yond the here and now. Shields are in a false po­si­tion in the English pyra­mid for the stature of play­ers they have. Their chair­man has in­vested heav­ily and they have a big sup­port be­hind them.

“Shields are prob­a­bly two or three rungs down the lad­der than they should be. They have clearly proved that by beat­ing Darlo and York and they are fly­ing in their league.

“I have a lot of re­spect for them, they have a lot of high­pro­file play­ers, I know Matty Pat­ti­son quite well and they have Julio Arca, to name just two.”

51 Wins out of 53 games for South Shields this year.

Julio Arca is the mid­field in­spi­ra­tion for South Shields.

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