Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett defends Toto Nsiala after indifferent display at Carlisle

Hartlepool Uniteds Toto Nsiala in action against Carlisle
Hartlepool Uniteds Toto Nsiala in action against Carlisle

Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett has leaped to the defence of under-fire defender Toto Nsiala.

The big DR Congo international has taken some criticism this week after a below par defensive show at Carlisle last week.

Nsiala was slow to react to the run of Jabo Ibehre for the Cumbrians’ opener. And then again for their 10-man Blues’ winner Nsiala left Michael Raynes free, giving the defender a free jump with time ticking away.

But Hignett says the centre-back deserves to be cut a bit of slack, especially after his “outstanding” run of recent performances.

The gaffer said: “Everyone makes a mistake in anything they do.

“International players make them, Premier League players do.

“It is how you deal with them that determine the level you play at. That applies to Toto.

“He has been great for us. His performances have been outstanding.”

Not only does Hignett see a bright immediate future for Nsiala, he also thinks the sky is the limit for the 24-year-old.

And the manager says there has been some interest in the former Everton kid, who he picked up on a free transfer from newly-promoted Grimsby Town in the summer.

“He is a young kid who will only get better and better,” said Hignett.

“I am more than happy he is at my football club.

“I can’t deny we have had people ask about him.

“He is a learner - the right type of player.

“He is hungry and wants to get better.

“That is the type of player we want at this club.”

While Nsiala is a certain pick at the heart of the backline, the other three defenders are all unsure as to whether it they will be selected or not, with Liam Donnelly likely to move into defence.

Hignett has tasked every defender in his squad to earn their stripes.

Although, he does not fear throwing anyone into the back four, as he believes he has quality in abundance in that area.

He said: “The back four had done well in recent games but individual errors cost us against Carlisle.

“Carl Magnay’s unfortunate injury has given Jordan Richards a chance and he has taken it.

“Likewise James Martin has come into the reckoning. He has forced his way in.

“It is a really nice problem to have.

“While we have had a thin squad to pick from lately the lads who have come in have not let the quality dip.

“That’s the really pleasing thing for me.

“We have proved we can have four or five out and it does not make a difference to the team.”