Hartlepool boss faces injury headache ahead of Luton clash

Curtis Fleming speaks to Scott Harrison after the defender's red card

Curtis Fleming speaks to Scott Harrison after the defender's red card

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Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett is facing up to a defensive crisis as he prepares for the visit of Luton Town.

With doubts remaining over the fitness of Matthew Bates as well as Rob Jones and Scott Harrison now suspended for the match against the high-flying Hatters, Hignett could well be without three of his four first-choice central defenders tomorrow night.

It was for kicking the ball away apparently - it was not justified.

And that could mean the manager is forced to put square pegs in round holes, should Bates and Jones remain sidelined.

Hignett said: “We will miss Scotty now, which is a problem with the injuries we have at centre-half.”

Harrison’s one-game ban, for two controversial yellows in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Plymouth, now leaves Hignett with a headache.

He either rushes back one of his more experienced defenders, calls up one of the kids or moves another player out of position to cover.

Hignett had been hopeful of calling upon the services of 36-year-old Jones for Saturday’s 1-1 away draw at Plymouth.

But a hip injury, which has seen him sidelined for a number of weeks, is continuing to cause problems for the former Sheffield Wednesday, Hibernian and Doncaster Rovers defender.

Jones remains doubtful for Tuesday evening, with Hignett admitting it may take the veteran a few more days to get over the issue.

Bates too is struggling to get back to full fitness.

Last week the gaffer expressed concerns about bone bruising in the player’s foot. He admitted that it was taking the 29-year-old an extended period to get back to full training, with the player suffering from pain every time he stepped up his recovery.

The option to throw one of the kids is difficult, with reserves’ teenage centre-back Ben Pollock, only signed in the summer on a free from Newcastle United, understood to be a little way off being ready to make his first-team bow at League Two level.

So that leaves the option of bringing Liam Donnelly, a star at right and left back in recent weeks, in to the heart of the backline.

That could see Jordan Richards brought in to cover on the right.

Hignett is far from happy with the situation.

He is frustrated to be without the services of Harrison at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium.

Of Saturday’s incident, the manager said: “It was for kicking the ball away apparently - it was not justified.

“The referee was desperate to do something.

“I get fed up with hearing my own voice, when I am talking to the fourth official.

“The official was under massive pressure because of what was going on on the pitch. He couldn’t answer anything because he didn’t know.

“We have now lost Scott for another game. That is disappointing.”