JORDAN Richards is looking to make the most of his first start of the season – and cling onto his place in Hartlepool United’s starting line-up, writes Richard Mennear
The 20-year-old utility man is comfortable playing on the right side of midfield and right-back and he played in defence in the 3-0 defeat to Rochdale at Victoria Park.
Richards, himself just back from three weeks out after a double hernia operation, was deputising for regular Michael Duckworth, out with a groin strain.
Richards said afterwards he thought he did “all right” but is desperate to build on that and keep his place in Colin Cooper’s starting XI after working hard over the festive period with physio Ian Gallagher to get back fit.
“I have come back quicker and worked extra hard with Buster and tried my hardest to get back in and around the squad,” said Richards, who almost scored after 15 minutes of the Sky Bet League Two match but his free-kick hit the upright.
The Sunderland-born player added: “I have come back at a fortunate time and got my chance and hopefully I will get another chance and keep my place.
“I have to try my hardest in games and try to keep Michael out of the team and whoever else wants to play there.”
Asked how he assessed his own performance, Richards added: “I might get a run in the team but we will see what happens.
“I think first half we all played well but second half wasn’t as good and we could have done better.
“The first goal was unfortunate, I went to clear it and it hit off him and ricocheted in.
“But apart from that, I don’t think I did too much wrong, I maybe could have done better going forward but thought I did alright. Just alright I would say though.”
Meanwhile, Duckworth and James Poole were due to be assessed yesterday by Pools’ medical staff, with boss Cooper hoping the pair will be able to make a swift return.
The 46-year-old said: “Michael has been in such good form and has probably had to stretch his body to its absolute limits.
“I believe this little niggle that Michael has got has probably been a while coming.
“He couldn’t have played. He desperately tried to do a fitness test on Friday but couldn’t kick a ball over any distance.
“He was feeling his groin just twisting and turning a wee bit and you have to be careful that doesn’t turn into something more sinister.”
Poole started the defeat to Dale but was subbed after an hour after tweaking his right hamstring.
He had actually tweaked his left hamstring in training last week but was fit enough to start Saturday, only to then feel his right hamstring and was subbed.
Trimdon-born Cooper added: “How many consecutive games have James and Michael played in their young careers and maybe six months into a really tough season their bodies are reacting to the kind of work we are trying to do.
“We have to manage that and find a way forward.”