Craig Hignett is in a tizz over the rules which he says will interfere with his team selection in the Checkatrade Trophy.
The Hartlepool United boss had contemplated changes at Notts County for tomorrow night’s opening tie in the competition formerly known as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
Hignett is without Trevor Carson and Liam Donnelly, who are away on international duty with Northern Ireland, while Matthew Bates has an ankle problem.
A Football League statement on the competition rules states that “each EFL Club shall play its full available strength in and during all matches.
“The League will from time to time issue a policy as to what constitutes ‘full available strength’.
“Any Club failing to meet this requirement will be required to pay a fine of up to £5,000.”
It’s a rule designed to stop clubs playing reserve sides, but Hignett says it is restricting his attempts to simply rotate his squad.
In the old JPT, teams had to include at least six of the 11 players who started the previous game or select at least six of the players who have made the most starting appearances in league and cup so far.
“We’ve got players we can’t pick who we want to play and players who we can’t pick because they’ve not played enough,” said Hignett.
“Who has a right to tell me what my strongest side is?
“There was a situation here a few years ago where Hartlepool won 5-1 in this competition and were awarded the performance of the week award in the competition and then were fined for fielding a weakened side.
“That cannot be right, in any world that cannot be right.
“It drives you mad. But we will have to get on with it.”
Adam Bartlett will start in goal, with Scott Harrison likely to deputise for Bates in the centre of defence.
Nicky Deverdics, Lewis Hawkins and Josh Laurent are candidates for a start at Meadow Lane, where Nicky Featherstone and Michael Woods could get breathers after their herculean efforts on Saturday in the 2-2 draw with Newport County.
Hignett could get around the rules, should he wish, by making early substitutions in order to get players on the park he’d like to look at.
It’s happened before witrh then Pools boss Danny Wilson withdrawing Richard Barker in the ninth minute at Lincoln, in order to send on Joel Porter who scored a hat-trick and made two in a 5-1 victory against the Imps.