Craig Harrison hopes to have Hartlepool United’s walking wounded back for St Johnstone

Nicky Deverdics
Nicky Deverdics

Craig Harrison hopes to have a number of Hartlepool United’s walking wounded back in contention for Saturday’s tough trip to St Johnstone.

The Pools boss will be without Rhys Oates, who hurt his groin in the first half of Tuesday night’s 2-1 defeat to Sunderland.

Liam Donnelly, who came on for a fatigued Conor Newton in the second period, is also major doubt after suffering a dead leg following a collision with team-mate Scott Harrison.

But Harrison has his fingers crossed for a return of a number of key men who missed the derby with the Black Cats.

Nicky Deverdics was not risked after taking a kick in the defeat at Harrogate, where he scored a brilliant last-minute free-kick.

Nicky Featherstone was not included in favour of a full week on the training ground to build up his fitness following a summer hernia op.

The midfielder had been troubled by injury towards the back end of last season but played through the pain barrier to try to keep Pools up.

Both Nickys should feature, as could Luke George, who has missed the last two friendlies with calf trouble.

Forwards Jake Cassidy (hamstring) was absent from the last two matches, while Devante Rodney (hip) has yet to feature in pre-season.

“I’d imagine Luke and Jake could be available, the Sunderland match came probably 24 hours too early for them,” said Harrison.

“Devante is fit and training, we just have to make sure we are careful with him.

“He’s missed two weeks of pre-season, it’s important we treat people individually, so he needs more strength work and then he can get some football in his legs.

“Devs took a kick on Saturday, X-rays showed there was no fracture so he’ll be back in training today and tomorrow.

“I’d like to think we’ll get three back possibly four for St Johnstone.”

After giving players chunks of 60 or 30 minutes in the previous matches, Harrison tried to give his team a full game against the Black Cats.

Oates was lost to injury while Newton tired but, otherwise, it was a successful venture.

“I wanted to get 90 minutes into the lads,” he said.

“The majority of the lads handled it very well.

“We were up against Championship footballers, many of them Premier League players from last season.

“Physically we matched them.”