IAN Holloway reckons it is now or never for the Seasiders.
The Pool boss believes today’s trip to third-placed Cardiff, followed by an FA Cup replay at Sheffield Wednesday and a home league game with Portsmouth, could go a long way to defining the season.
Holloway views today’s Cardiff test as “a huge challenge”, and believes it will be one of the best results of the season, should his team get a win.
But whatever happens, he wants to make sure Pool end a tough week in good spirits.
He said: “These next three games are really difficult for us, not least because having three draining, tiring matches in a week is tricky at the best of times.
“Cardiff are a really strong team, everybody knows that.
“We drew with them at home and they have only lost four times all season, so it couldn’t be much tougher really.
“Then after that we have what I consider a very important Cup match because we are only three wins from getting to Wembley in the semi-finals, which is something as a club we want to do.
“But it will be tough – we saw what Sheffield Wednesday can do at our place – and then we have Portsmouth coming to our place which is another big test.
“So it’s a big seven days, and it will mentally test us, but on that score I am liking what I’m seeing.
“My team, and the way they approach games – there are a lot of similarities to the side that went up last time.
“Just like that team, we keep going whether we let a goal in or scored one and that is exactly the attitude I am after.
“Not knowing when you are beaten is a great quality to have in the Championship, which is such a difficult division.
“It has helped us come from behind in each of our last three matches and get results. Hopefully it will help us through this next week.
“I just wish we would go in front in a game for once – that would make a nice change.”
Holloway believes strength in depth is the key to success this season.
He reckons his current squad is stronger in all areas than the group that won promotion last time.
“The strength off the bench is the secret to all of it,” he added.
“That is why we failed, in the Premier League, to turn that bad run around.
“We weren’t strong enough off the bench.
“I didn’t have enough options or choices. I tried to get as many as I could last January, but unfortunately I didn’t have the quality we needed.
“That is no disrespect to anyone, but when you are in the top level you have to accumulate a stronger and more experienced group if you are going to stay up.
“We didn’t really do that.
“But I am really happy with what we did this January, and where we are now.
“Having someone like Roman Bednar here, who has so much experience and talent, is a big thing for us.
“I’ve got a great squad, and I’m excited about the rest of the season and looking forward to seeing where it takes us.
“We all want to be promoted, but are we good enough? Time will tell.”
Holloway will have to make at least one change at Cardiff today, with Neal Eardley or the on-loan Danny Wilson replacing the suspended Ian Evatt.