Ex-Chelsea midfielder an inspiration to all at Hartlepool United

Guiseley AFC (white) 0-1 Hartlepool United FC Vanarama National League 28-08-2027.  Picture by FRANK REID
Guiseley AFC (white) 0-1 Hartlepool United FC Vanarama National League 28-08-2027. Picture by FRANK REID

If Lewis Hawkins and James Thorne need a flash of inspiration before Hartlepool United’s FA Cup trip they need to look at one number – 14.

Yes, Michael Woods.

I’d love to say that it was a tactical master-class, but it just felt the right thing

CRAIG HARRISON

No footballer, whether it’s a World Cup qualifier, National League or the Sunday First Division, likes being hauled off at half-time.

Only being taken off BEFORE the interval is a greater kick to ‘where it hurts’.

Hawkins and Thorne were taken off at half-time at Solihull Moors, where Pools shook off a drab first half to win 2-1 to move to within two points of the play-offs.

But Woods is a shining example of how a player can come back from that boot to the you-know-where area.

The midfielder did not make it out for the second half of the opening game of the season, against Dover, and watched the next five games from the dug-out.

Pools boss Craig Harrison recalled the 27-year-old at Guiseley and what a decision!

Woods has been the driving force since that Bank Holiday afternoon win on the outskirts of Leeds.

“Without a doubt,” declared Harrison.

“Whether that was right or wrong that’s by the by now.

“At the time I thought it was the right thing to do and re-instating him when I did I thought was the right thing to do.

“Timing is everything and he has come in and kicked on.

“I’d love to say that it was a tactical master-class, but it just felt the right thing.

“Woodsy has answered me, the way he’s played has said ‘I’m not going to stand for not being in the team’.

“He’s been a consummate professional.

“When we were getting beaten he was saying we should be playing better, but at no point was he saying stuff like ‘I should be playing’.

“It was always about ‘us’ it was never about him, he’s been a great character, I respect that so much.

“A lot of players would have gladly put the knife in when the team was losing and hey saw someone in what hey felt was there position.

“He’s obviously taken his opportunity.”

On the subject of opportunity taking, Woods became the ninth different scorer this season when he came up with the winner against Barrow last week.

As SportMail reported, the former Chelsea player’s goal stats are highly revealing - nine goals coincide with nine wins.

Harrison, therefore, would like to see the net disturbed more often.

“Woodsy should score more goals than what he does,” said the boss. “He gets into some fantastic positions and he’s a very good technical player.

“He came up with a very important one last Tuesday.”

No-one should be surprised about the mental fortitude of Woods, who has come back from a succession of injury woes.

He had two knee operations before Colin Cooper brought him to the Vic in 2014 and he suffered a dislocated ankle and fractured his fibula in the early stages of the Great Escape in 2015.

Woods will have to play a key role this Saturday at Mariners Park, where he will be up against South Shields main man, Julio Arca in the midfield battle.