Hartlepool United boss Colin Cooper to sign players after injury trouble

IN PAIN: Antony Sweeney on the Victoria Park pitch after pulling up against Mansfield Town. Picture by FRANK REID
IN PAIN: Antony Sweeney on the Victoria Park pitch after pulling up against Mansfield Town. Picture by FRANK REID
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COLIN Cooper was today looking to bring in a couple loan players to bolster his Hartlepool United squad.

The Pools boss needs new faces after a battering 4-2 defeat to Mansfield Town left four of his squad injured.

Injuries to Marlon Harewood (ankle), Jack Compton (tweaked hamstring), Darren Holden (back spasm) and a nasty looking leg injury to Antony Sweeney have left Cooper’s small squad in desperate need of reinforcements.

Captain Sam Collins also took a heavy blow to the face and is amongst the walking wounded.

While there is no indication yet whether they will miss any games, Cooper is acting fast ahead of the home match with Cheltenham Town in Sky Bet League Two on Saturday.

Cooper told SportMail he is also looking to extend the loan signing of Manchester United forward Jack Barmby until the end of season.

One of the players expected to sign is definitely a central defender but Cooper was giving nothing away on his identity until the loan deal is signed before the deadline on Thursday teatime.

Defeat saw the gap between 11th-placed Pools and the top seven extend to nine points as York City won again.

Pools had taken the lead in the 52nd minute at Victoria Park through Luke James’ 15th goal of the campaign but injuries to Harewood, who had scored the first, Compton and Holden meant Cooper had to make three quick changes.

The momentum shifted in Mansfield’s favour and a second James Jennings goal, a Matt Rhead header and a Jamie McGuire strike in injury time sealed all three points for Paul Cox’s side.

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Cooper said: “We have three or four injuries which we can ill-afford to have but I have already put something in place which will hopefully happen before the deadline.

“I am looking to bring a couple in, if nothing else.

“If I can try to bolster numbers going into the weekend then I will.

“I am certainly looking to bring a centre-half in, which will hopefully get done, and then one or two others.

“We have contacted Manchester United and Jack [Barmby] is keen to stay and their U21 coach is keen for him to extend.

“Jack came into the dressing room and said ‘I don’t want that to be my last game for Hartlepool United’ because everything has been good for him.

“Both sides were keen to extend it until the end of the season.”

To add to Cooper’s frustrations, he had to make three substitutes not long after Pools had taken the lead and with 30 minutes still left to play.

Cooper added: “We don’t carry loads of numbers, we have been pretty lucky with our injury record so far this season but Sweens looks as though it won’t be very pretty.

“Jack, Daz and Marlon hopefully will settle down over a couple of days but we will wait and see.

“I can’t do anything about injuries but just having to throw all three subs on with so long left was far from ideal, especially when you are changing one of your back four, one of your midfield and one of your strikers.”

While the result was damaging to both the playing staff and also their play-off hopes, the manager wasn’t ruling out their chances just yet.

Back-to-back defeats at Oxford United and Mansfield Town haven’t helped though.

Cooper told SportMail: “Let’s just see what happens.

“You can’t lose two on the bounce and away games and still think you will be in the chasing pack.

“You can’t rely on just winning at home because sooner or later that is going to happen.

“We have another home game on Saturday, let’s see what happens after that and we’ll go into the games as they come along.

“Nobody is winning and that is the frustrating thing.

“We have had two opportunities to put ourselves in a good place but haven’t managed it.”