Craig Hignett admits that Padraig Amond is finding it tough to adapt to a new role in the Hartlepool United forward line.
Despite his five goals in 15 games for Pools so far this season, the Irishman, a summer signing from Grimsby Town, has come in for some criticism in recent weeks.
It is not his prowess in front of goal that has been called into question, it is more to do with his seeming inability to hold the ball and relieve pressure when Pools are under the cosh.
The fact that fan favourite Billy Paynter has been twiddling his thumbs on the sidelines has not helped matters, also.
But Hignett has revealed that Amond, who netted a remarkable 37 times for Grimsby last season, is having to adapt on the job.
And the gaffer says that while playing in a lone striking role has been hard for the 28-year-old, he has been impressed by Amond’s contribution.
“It is tough for him as he is playing a new role,” said Hignett.
“He is used to having a big man alongside him to feed off but he hasn’t got that here.
“He is adapting, learning and getting better in the role.
“As a player he is too honest at times.
“He chases absolutely everything and you just can’t do that when you are up front on your own.
“I have been pleased with him so far. He is learning with every game. He is getting better and better.”
On the injury front Hignett is hopeful that he will have Matthew Bates back for this weekend’s trip to Barnet.
The central defender has been missing since August with bone bruising in his foot.
But having returned to training last week the former Middlesbrough man is in contention for this weekend.
Whether he will start or not is up for debate, especially given the fact he has missed seven weeks of first-team action.
But Pools defensive woes – which has seen them concede six in their last two, making them the division’s second worst backline – may force Hignett’s hand.
Were Bates or Jones to return it is likely that Jordan Richards, who had a very poor game on against Orient at the weekend, would be the most likely to drop out, with Liam Donnelly switching to the right-hand side of defence.