Craig Hignett reveals whether he will stick or twist with Hartlepool’s three at the back experiment

Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett.
Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett.
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Craig Hignett is toying with the idea of binning Hartlepool’s three at the back experiment.

But while the gaffer agrees the formation needs more work, he thinks it could be a winner for Pools in the long-term.

Hignett refused to rule out going back to a four ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Wycombe Wanderers.

He says he is still weighing up whether to stick with the three that kept a clean sheet in Tuesday night’s win over Accrington, or go back to a flat back four.

“I am still deciding,” he said ahead of the Adams Park trip. “I admit the formation needs work.

“I thought in the first half we struggled a bit with the formation. The midfielders didn’t seem able to pass the ball forward and balls into the box troubled us.

“But we got better at it as the game went on.”

Playing a three requires thinking footballers, not ones who just get their head down and play the game.

Hignett is an advocate of teaching his squad, especially the young boys, to make sure they play with their head up.

And while he thinks his experienced lads adapted well to the switch, which was not worked on in training for too long prior to Tuesday night, some with less games under their belts struggled.

The gaffer, who is expected to have both Liam Donnelly and Jordan Richards available, explained: “You do need clever footballers to play that way, but I know I have, got them here.

“Matty Bates has made a big difference in there with his organisation. Nicky Featherstone is a good footballer who will keep people in and around him. Josh Laurent is coming on leaps and bounds.

“Podge (Padraig Amond) and Lewis (Alessandra) know what they are doing. Devs (Nicky Deverdics) knows what he is doing. These are not kids.

“They know what they are doing. They have played a lot of football, so I would expect them to be able to switch formations.

“It is harder with the younger ones. It can seem a bit foreign for them.

“Maybe Toto (Nsiala) doesn’t understand that position like he would in a two. But he will, because he is young enough. He wants to learn.

“It is the same with Scott. He did well wanting to bring the ball out.

“That is the advantage of playing with three at the back, you have an opportunity to take the ball out.”

Either way the midweek win proved to the gaffer that he is able to switch system at any point this campaign, and he has the personnel available to him capable of getting a result.

Hignett added: “It is good to know that we have a squad capable of doing it when we need to.”