Billy Paynter is a major doubt for Hartlepool United’s big TV clash with Leyton Orient.
The Pools skipper limped off five minutes before half-time in Saturday’s 1-0 FA Cup win over Cheltenham Town.
You never know with problems like this. If you are not careful then it can become four or six weeksRONNIE MOORE
Paynter, desperate to lead Pools back to winning ways at Victoria Park, had struggled through much of the first period before ‘conceding defeat’ to a troublesome Achilles.
And Pools boss Ronnie Moore admits his fellow Scouser may not make Sunday’s visit of the Londoners though he said he would be governed by the views of head physio, Ian Gallagher.
It would be a major blow for Pools – Paynter is the team’s top scorer with seven, with no-one even close to him in the goalscoring stakes.
“Billy’s had a problem with it, it’s been really tight,” explained Moore.
“We’ve tried to give him a little break, but it was sore again and he had to come off.
“We’ll give him rest and see where we’re at.
“You never know with problems like this. If you are not careful then it can become four or six weeks.
“We’ll be governed by Buster [Gallagher]. He’ll be the one who says whether he’ll be OK or not.”
It means Moore will probably pair Scott Fenwick and Rakish Bingham up front for the Sunday lunchtime game though he says he also has the option of Rhys Oates.
Fenwick and Bingham hit it off up front during the early stages of the Great Escape last season before Bingham – who came on as Paynter’s replacement against the Robins – was recalled by parent club Mansfield Town.
Oates, meanwhile, has looked out of sorts on the last two Saturdays wide on the right, where he has filled in for Pools after the ending of the 4-3-3 formation.
“Scotty has come back into the fold although, to be fair, he’s not had many chances [on Saturday],” Moore told SportMail.
“There was one bit of great work by Bings and if he picks out Scotty then the game was all over.
“We’ll have to wait and see with Billy.
“They can play together, there’s no doubt about that.
“There’s Oatesy as well. He’s a centre forward.
“On Saturday, he looked like a centre-forward playing out wide. This was the first time really he’s been found wanting out there.
“But, you have to remember he’s only a young kid, who’s not played a lot of games.”
Moore hopes he may have on-loan defender Magnus Okuonghae available for the Sky Sports-screened clash with the O’s.
Luton Town boss John still did not want the giant centre-half cup-tied but he could play on Sunday, providing he overcomes a foot problem.
It would leave Moore an awkward decision, given how well his new central defensive pairing of Matthew Bates and on-loan Boro prospect Adam Jackson performed.
But with Scott Harrison a doubt with a hamstring niggle which forced him out of Saturday’s cup tie, the Pools boss will want all the defensive might he can muster.