"There's a quiet confidence about the group" - Town boss Millington on selection headaches, maintaining form and the Easter double-header

Chris Millington says Town's front four have made themselves hard to drop ahead of the visit to Hartlepool on Good Friday.
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The Shaymen kick-off a potentially pivotal Easter double-header at Hartlepool before hosting York City on Monday.

And Millington says strikers Rob Harker and Aaron Cosgrave and attacking midfielders Andrew Oluwabori and Florent Hoti have put themselves in a good position to keep their places after their roles in beating champions Chesterfield last time out.

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"The big headaches are created by the front four all either scoring or assisting against such a good team like Chesterfield," Millington said when asked about competition for places among the squad.

Chris MillingtonChris Millington
Chris Millington

"It means they make themselves hard to drop.

"Adan George is now back available for selection, Jamie Cooke's coming back into the fray.

"In midfield we've got Jenkins, Summers, Hunts and Kane and you've also got Jack Evans who can do central midfield, full-back and has even had minutes at left midfield.

"So it's a real positive time and I think the lads recognise that and rather than feeling threatened by the bodies coming back, it's spurring them on and encouraging them to commit everything they can to give what they can for the shirt, knowing they've got support and back-up there when they need it."

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Attacker Jamie Cooke is expected to be in contention for Friday's game after recovering from his ankle ligament injury.

"He would have been in contention on Saturday," Millington said, "although he's not trained a great deal and we'd prefer him to have a few sessions under his belt, which he's since had the opportunity to get.

"Angelo Cappello is maybe another week off but he's getting closer.

"Some of the aches and pains and knocks and niggles that some would have been carrying into the Ebbsfleet game will have had time to ease, so in that respect there is some silver lining."

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Assessing the mood in the squad, Millington said: "There's a steeliness. I was looking across the room at the pre-match meeting before the postponement on Saturday and there's a quiet confidence about the group.

"We're at the stage now where we know that whoever comes into the starting 11 understands what we're trying to do, they're going to give everything for the shirt and their team-mates and, on our day, we've got the ability to beat anyone in the league.

"So it is really reassuring when you look across the room and you know you can rely on every member of the squad to give everything they've got to try and get those points."

Millington says he is looking forward to the Easter double-header.

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"I really like the set-up Hartlepool have got, like the way they play, like a lot of the personnel," he said.

"The new manager's clearly had a really positive impact and it's a great game for us to go into.

"As with a lot of teams at the moment, you're seeing some good performances and results where maybe earlier in the season, they weren't quite hitting top form.

"But it just shows what a top team they are and they'll be out to get three points on Friday."

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The Shaymen will need to be wary of Hartlepool's top scorer Mani Dieseruvwe, who was also top-scorer at Halifax last season.

"Him and Ferguson are one of the most productive pairings in the league when you look at assists and goals," Millington said.

"We'll do all our homework and go through our ususal processes so we're well prepared."

Halifax have taken 21 points from their last 24 available, a run which has put them right in the mix for a top seven finish.

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"I think there's been games in the season we've drawn, or even some we've lost, where we probably deserved a victory, so it's not too much of a surprise," said Millington when asked what he put the team's run down to.

"We always know one of the significant challenges of managing Halifax Town is retaining the talent we've got, and it gets harder every year because you get more and more clubs with greater budgets coming into the league so every year we drop lower in the budget league table because we have bigger budgets dropping out of the Football League and bigger budgets getting promoted from the divisions below.

"Every year we're losing 50 per cent of the squad, and it's 50 per cent of the regular starters because they come of age, establish themselves and move onto bigger and better things.

"Because of that, we spend a significant amount of time in the first part of the season coaching, developing, establishing the new recruits, who are often young players coming into National League football, as regular starters at this level.

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"By the time we hit Christmas, they do tend to start to find their feet and become more established.

"I don't see that situation changing a great deal, even if we manage to find ourselves in the fortunate position of getting promoted into League Two, I think we're still going to have a very similar model.

"But I think it's credit to the staff in particular for identifying, recruiting and then developing these players so that we tend to have a strong team come the second-half of the season."

When asked if Halifax could maintain their form for much longer or whether it was inevitable the run would end soon, Millington said: "I don't know really. I guess in one respect it's unrealistic to expect to win every game, but we will go out with that intention and that endeavour.

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"We know that if we get it right, we can beat Hartlepool, but equally, we know they're a very, very difficult opposition whose league position is slightly miselading because they should be higher with the quality in their squad.

"I wouldn't go as far to say we're going to beat them but we'll certainly do everything we can to try and make that a reality."

Town managed to bounce back from their sole defeat since the start of their winning streak, recovering from losing 2-0 at Bromley by beating Boreham Wood 2-1.

"It's always the same - win, lose or draw we go into the next game making every effort to try and win it," Millington said.

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"Sometimes defeats have the positive of instigating some real soul searching and effort to try and find solutions to problems that might not be acknowledged quite as much when you're winning.

"But we try and be thorough in our processes and make sure we're not overlooking anything.just because the results are positive."

Town have seven games remaining in which to try and secure a top seven place, but Millington says he doesn't have a points target in mind.

"We're going to finish as high as we possibly can, so as boring as it is," he said. "We just want to try and achieve three points every game.

"I think you can get waylaid and distracted by setting targets. Our main aim is to try and beat Hartlepool and hopefully once we've done that, we'll move on."

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