Connor Simpson will be in Hartlepool United squad again for Doncaster Rovers clash

Connor Simpson (left) lends his support to Rhys Oates in a Pools assault on the home goalmouth. Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX
Connor Simpson (left) lends his support to Rhys Oates in a Pools assault on the home goalmouth. Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX

Matthew Bates says he will have no qualms in selecting AND playing Connor Simpson again for the biggest match in Hartlepool United’s history.

The teen sensation is set to retain his place in the squad for Saturday’s crunch League Two clash with Doncaster Rovers at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium.

Connor was an asset for us, something we could use and try, he caused problems when he came on

MATTHEW BATES

Simpson came from nowhere last week to be not just a part of the matchday 18 at Cheltenham, but get on for the last 10 minutes AND almost score with his first touch.

The 18-year-old was denied by Robins keeper, Scott Brown, at his near post, and did not look fazed despite the magnitude of the occasion.

“Connor did well, almost scored with his first touch,” said Bates.

“He puts himself about.

“We looked at him in training and thought ‘why not?’ because he gave us a different option at Cheltenham.

“He’ll be with us this week as well.”

Pools have already had one accidental hero this season after Brad Walker was thrust from the centre of the midfield to the heart of the defence, following the injury to Bates, ironically, at Luton Town.

And Bates admitted the arrival of the youngster, from Guisborough, was an off-the-cuff hunch rather than an inspired, pre-planned move.

“We worked on Cheltenham’s strengths last week and knew they had a big man up front,” said the 30-year-old who fronts the interim management team with Billy Paynter, Stuart Parnaby and Ian Gallagher.

“So we asked for Connor to come and train with us on Tuesday and we all saw something in him.

“He’s big, strong and quick, when he gets going, and he’s scored a lot of goals.

“Youth team football is a little bit different to this, but he does know where the goal is.

“We could have taken a young player in the squad to Cheltenham but would we really have used him?

“Probably not in a game like that. it would have been a case of just putting someone on the bench for the sake of it, filling up the numbers.

“But Connor was an asset for us, something we could use and try.

“He caused problems when he came on.”

He certainly did, though Bates admitted there was a quandary given the situation at Carlisle, where Newport trailed 2-1.

The goal difference was in favour of his side, who were on -21, compared to -22 for County, meaning Pools can stay up this Saturday if Newport draw, providing of course Rovers are beaten.

“We were keeping up to date with the Newport score, we knew they were getting beaten,” said Bates.

“We didn’t want to concede another because of the goal difference situation.

“We thought let’s shove him on as an extra forward [to go for it], it was a bit of a risk but in the end it didn’t cost us.”