Hartlepool Utd boss to give injured players every chance to make Chesterfield clash

Christian Burgess is hurt against Portsmouth. Picture by FRANK REID
Christian Burgess is hurt against Portsmouth. Picture by FRANK REID

COLIN Cooper will give his wounded troops “every chance” to recover for tomorrow’s big battle with Chesterfield.

The Hartlepool United boss welcomes back Scott Flinders into his squad after the keeper’s run of 114 successive league games ended at Portsmouth last Saturday.

But Cooper hopes to have Marlon Harewood and Andy Monkhouse back after recovering from ankle and hamstring injuries.

The only major doubt is on-loan defender Christian Burgess who hobbled out of Pompey with an ankle problem.

Burgess continues to be “assessed” while Harewood and Monkhouse will be checked out this morning to see if there is any reaction to yesterday’s training.

If fit, Harewood is likely to feature tomorrow given how Pools and leading scorer Luke James have certainly missed the powerful frontman.

“Given we are at home and not on some long away trip, we can give Marlon and Andy a bit longer,” said Cooper.

“We will see if there’s been a reaction, then we can assess for the weekend.

“Scott has trained all week and the only other person is Christian.

“He was carried off, has been back at Middlesbrough all week having his ankle assessed and will struggle for the weekend.”

Cooper looks set to start with on-loan Sunderland centre-half Scott Harrison alongside Sam Collins at the heart of the defence.

“Scott is a good centre-half, he’s aggressive and he can handle the ball,” Cooper explained.

“Tomorrow is a really good challenge for him and I think he’s someone who will look forward to that.

“Can he handle the physicality? I believe he can.

“Can he handle the football technically? We saw him step forward at Portsmouth, drop a shoulder and beat a forward and then play a ball wide.

“If I’m Scott, I’d be looking at the forward players who play for Chesterfield and think this is a really good challenge for someone coming out of development football.”

On the subject of Scotts, it would be a surprise if Flinders was not between the sticks tomorrow.

Flinders missed the 1-0 defeat because of illness, with Andy Rafferty taking charge between the sticks at Fratton Park, where he was the stand-out away performer.

Cooper was “angry” with the performance of his team on the south coast but he was not upset with his keeper.

“Andy did as good a job he could have last week – do I continue [with him] or go back to Scott?” said Cooper who will ponder his options today.

Rafferty has done enough to deserve another run-out.

It is a poser for the manager. Should Flinders move on to a higher division club in the summer, does Cooper have a longer look at Rafferty as a potential number one?

At the opposite end of the park, should Harewood return, one of the two Jacks, Barmby or Compton, would appear to be at risk of losing their place.

Neither were particularly effective at Fratton Park, Compton not even making it out for the second half while Barmby was taken off after 65 minutes.

James Poole, who provided a couple of positive moments, is likely to continue in the starting XI.

Pools (possible): Flinders, Duckworth, Collins, Harrison, Holden, Poole, Walker, Walton, Barmby, Harewood, James.

Subs (from): Rafferty, Rowbotham, Richards, Jones, Oliver, Compton, Franks, Monkhouse

Chesterfield (probable): Lee, Darikwa, Humphreys, Morsy, Evatt, Cooper, Ryan, Kearns, Doyle, O’Shea, Roberts

Subs: Dunbavin, Smith, Hird, Richards, Gnanduillet, Gardner, Bennett.