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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007, 09:22 GMT 10:22 UK
Barker confident of Pools chances
By Pete Oliver

Danny Wilson
Wilson had led his side to great success
Hartlepool United striker Richard Barker believes Pools have not finished climbing yet following promotion last season.

The North-East club roared into League One on the back of a club record run of 23 games unbeaten between November and the end of March.

Walsall just pipped Danny Wilson's men to the title but Barker is confident that Hartlepool can maintain their momentum at the higher level.

"I thought once we achieved promotion we would keep going," he told BBC Sport.

"Sometimes teams go up and think fifth or sixth from bottom will do.

"But I had a feeling this club will keep going until they get what they deserve for the effort people have put in over the past few years.

"I didn't want to go to a team that that got promoted and thought 'this is great'. I wanted to go to a club that wanted to keep going."

Barker joined Hartlepool from Mansfield Town in January - a week after lining up against them for the Stags.

"I was really impressed with the way that they played," he said. "They got the ball down and passed it. I knew then they were a good side, even though they were still in mid-table at the time."

The 32-year-old therefore needed little persuasion to join the Pools bandwagon.

Hartlepool United

"With all due respect to Mansfield, at the time they weren't geared up to going up and then maybe challenging for the Championship," Barker added.

"I thought Hartlepool showed they are a team that could do that and it might be my last chance.

"When you get that opportunity to win something in your 30s and have that last little chance of playing in a higher division you have to take it."

Contrary to years gone by, Hartlepool were an attractive proposition on and off the pitch as Barker teamed up again with Wilson, who was a senior professional at Sheffield Wednesday when Barker was just starting out.

He added: "Going back a long time when I was first playing, Hartlepool was not a place you particularly wanted to go to. It was not a great ground, it was a poor pitch and it always seemed to be cold.

"But now it was voted the best pitch in the league last year, the chairman has spent a lot of money on the ground and we probably had the strongest squad in our division last year when we broke all sorts of records.

"A lot has gone into the club over the last five or six years."

Barker immediately justified Wilson's lengthy pursuit of a player who had scored 48 goals in 106 games for Mansfield following earlier spells with Brighton, Macclesfield and Rotherham.

The big striker scored nine times in 18 games to help Pools to promotion and already this season he has netted three times in League One.

Last weekend he bullied the Leeds United defence into submission at Elland Road but was out of luck in front of goal as Pools were unfortunate to lose 2-0.

That was their second defeat of the season but the quality of the football they played, and with high quality young players like James Brown and Gary Liddle in their side, suggests Pools can again challenge at the top end of the table.

Two years ago they were only 10 minutes away from victory in the play-off final that would have taken them into the Championship for the first time in their history.

The impetus was temporarily lost with relegation 12 months later but Barker, while keeping a positive start in perspective, believes Wilson's side could be capable of repeating a recent trend of back-to-back promotions from the bottom tier.

"We know teams in the last six or seven years have done it. We did it when I was at Rotherham, Brighton did it and Southend did it so we know it's possible," he said.

"We came up on the crest of a wave and we have added some good quality to the squad.

"But we are keeping our heads down and we are not getting carried away after just five games.

"The league table doesn't really take effect until 10 or 12 games into the season and then maybe we will have a look at it and set targets."

Hartlepool snap up striker Barker
04 Jan 07 |  Hartlepool United


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