Craig Hignett sets Hartlepool forward task of becoming club’s Mr Consistent

Hartlepool United's Rhys Oates.
Hartlepool United's Rhys Oates.

Craig Hignett has set forward Rhys Oates the task of becoming Hartlepool United’s Mr Consistent.

The manager believes it’s time for the Pools attacker to start producing the goods in front of goal, or make sure he is providing the bullets for others.

Rhys needs to produce the goods four out of five, not one in 10

“Rhys knows what he needs to improve on. He knows the areas he needs to get better,” said Hignett.

“As a forward player you are judged on the goals your score and the ones you create.

“When you get in good positions, like Rhys does regular, you need to produce the goods four out of five, not one in 10.”

Oates has been a peripheral figure in the Pools squad so far this season.

He began the campaign on loan at Gateshead, but after injury forced Bradley Fewster back to Middlesbrough and similarly Tom Heardman to Newcastle United, the pathway to the first-team opened up for Oates.

And having been given his chance at Portsmouth, Oates grasped it with both hands, putting a tireless display, both in an attacking, and defensive sense.

He followed that up by acting as Pools chief threat in the home loss to Blackpool at the start of the week.

The last two games have not gone unnoticed by the manager, though.

He has been full of praise for Oates, especially after calling for his fringe men to step up to the plate in recent weeks.

“Rhys has put in a shift in the last two games,” said the manager.

“We always know what we are going to get from Rhys. He is quick, he is powerful.

“His quality could be better as he doesn’t produce what he should from the positions he gets into.

“But he has had an impact since he has come into the side.”

His performances might have come as a little surprise to some, who thought his time at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium could be coming to an end.

They have been no shock to former Middlesbrough assistant Hignett.

He said: “I know what he can do and what he can’t do.

“His performances are absolutely no surprise to me.

“A lot of what he does on the pitch can be put down to age and a lack of games.

“He is getting the experience now and he needs to learn from it.”