Hartlepool UNited boss Craig Harrison facing tough decisions

Pools trilaist Kosovar Sadike at St Johnstone. Picture by Graeme Hart/ PPA
Pools trilaist Kosovar Sadike at St Johnstone. Picture by Graeme Hart/ PPA

Craig Harrison admits he is facing some big decisions when the season gets under way in earnest.

The 39-year-old has re-shaped the squad at Hartlepool United, who launch their National League campaign at home to Dover Athletic a week on Saturday.

There are going to be some awkward decisions to make but I’d rather have them instead of no decisions

CRAIG HARRISON

Harrison has brought in new players to every department – keeper Scott Loach, defenders Louis Laing and Blair Adams, midfielders Luke George and Conor Newton, and attackers Jake Cassidy, Ryan Donaldson and Jack Munns.

They join a healthy number of already-established stars like Carl Magnay, Scott Harrison, Nicky Featherstone, Nicky Deverdics, Lewis Hawkins, Michael Woods, Rhys Oates and Padraig Amond, to name just eight.

With only five subs on the bench in the National League, rather than seven in the EFL, Harrison must ‘squeeze’ all his players into a match-day squad of 16.

“There are going to be some awkward decisions to make but I’d rather have them instead of no decisions,” said Harrison.

“We have 18 senior players and I’m going to have to make some serious decisions over the next couple of weeks.”

Harrison also has several talented young professionals at his disposal, players like Josh Hawkes, Kenton Richardson and Liam Travers, while he also has a number of trialists.

“We have 18 really good players,” he said. “Also we proved we have four or five young players, who have gained really good experience.

“They came on at St Johnstone against a really good team who were fourth in the Scottish Premier League and have been playing in the Europa League qualifiers and you wouldn’t have noticed any difference in the way we played.

“All the lads who came on competed brilliantly against a good side.

“It’s hard coming on for 45 minutes or half an hour against a team like St Johnstone.

“They all did really well.”

Harrison leads Pools into a friendly double this weekend when they host Middlesbrough tomorrow evening before visiting Whitley Bay on Saturday, with four trialists expected to feature somewhere along the way.

The quartet all came on in the second half at Perth last weekend, keeper Matt Gould, Canada U23 centre-half Kosovar Sadike, defender James Risborough and winger Junior Mondal.