Craig Hignett: No Hartlepool player is guaranteed a start, we have strength in depth

Jake Carroll.
Jake Carroll.

Never mind formation changes, the toughest call Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett has to make is at left-back.

But the gaffer is not complaining one bit, that competition for places, especially in his defence, went up a notch in midweek.

Having criticised Jake Carroll (pictured) for switching off for Doncaster’s winner last week, Hignett threw in rookie kid James Martin for his League Two debut against Accrington.

And the 18-year-old grabbed the opportunity with both hands, putting in an accomplished, mature display at left wingback.

When Martin was replaced in the second-half, having picked up a booking, Carroll stepped up to the plate.

Taking his removal from the team on the chin, he then hit back with a marauding cameo down the left.

Hignett admits he now has a conundrum on his hands.

Who does he pick? In-form teenager Martin or more experienced Carroll?

Either way, Hignett is delighted to see stiff for competition in his squad.

“That is exactly what I want,” he said.

“I don’t want players to be comfortable.

“I want them to know if they have a few bad games that there are players capable of coming in to replace them.

“We have that in young Jamesy.

“He has been desperate to play and has deserved his chance.

“I just thought after Saturday, where there was a lapse in concentration, he deserved a chance.

“He is a capable lad. For a debut I thought he looked really mature.

“He goes and gets stuck in.”

While tomorrow’s opponents have been going well in the division, having won four on the bounce, Hignett is not concerned by what lies ahead of his side at Adams Park.

He said: “Wycombe have done well, but I’m not too fussed. I know what they do and how they play, but I’m concentrating on us. Games are all difficult in this league.”