Hartlepool Utd must fight for survival without injured top-scorer Luke James

Luke James twists his ankle after slipping on a sprinkler cover against Burton Albion. Photograph by FRANK REID

Luke James twists his ankle after slipping on a sprinkler cover against Burton Albion. Photograph by FRANK REID

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THIS is the moment Hartlepool United and their fans thought could not happen – the season getting even worse.

Pools must win their fight for survival minus their talisman, Luke James.

The leading scorer damaged ankle ligaments when trying to keep the ball in play early in Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Burton Albion.

After lengthy treatment from physio Ian Gallagher, James tried to carry on only to collapse to the turf and get helped off the Pirelli Stadium.

James has definitely been ruled out of today’s Pack the Park showdown with fellow strugglers Morecambe and the chances are he’ll miss Saturday’s trip to Plymouth Argyle and the May 3 finale with Exeter.

To say it is a devastating blow would be an understatement – the teenager is the top scorer with 16 goals and the next best is six.

Manager Colin Cooper said: “We all accept Luke has been absolutely fantastic for us.

“Now it’s someone else’s chance to step up to the plate and do a job for the team.”

Cooper will probably start with Marlon Harewood and James Poole up front against the Shrimps.

Admission today is just £5 for all areas of the Vic. Tickets can be bought in advance at the ticket office or fans can pay at the turnstiles.