HARTLEPOOL United will take on Yeovil Town tomorrow (kick-off 3pm) without Jack Baldwin – but it is hoped he will be back before the end of the month.
The 19-year-old suffered medial-ligament damage during Tuesday’s goalless draw with Colchester United and heavy swelling has prevented an early prognosis.
The in-form southerner, however, will definitely miss out this weekend.
“Jack still has swelling around his knee,” explained Hughes.
“We’ll get it scanned and we’re hoping it’s not as bad as first feared.
“He might miss a good few weeks but we’re hoping that is the worst-case scenario.”
The injury is Baldwin’s first setback as a young pro, but Hughes says the blow should serve to amplify his appreciation for his trade.
“He was in a rich vein of form so it’s a shame,” added the Scot.
“People are watching him, I know that because I get the list of scouts who come to the game.
“But injuries are all part and parcel of football – he has to sit back now and take the knock and come back stronger for it mentally.
“He can come back with an appreciation of enjoying your football when you do play.”
Antony Sweeney played 45 minutes for Pools’ reserves on Wednesday night, the midfielder having been sidelined since January with a knee injury.
l TURN to Page 46
Tomorrow, though, looks set to come too soon for the 29-year-old.
“It’s excellent timing having Tony back,” Hughes said.
“He’s been a valuable player for Hartlepool over the years.
“He has that knack of ghosting in and scoring a goal.
“We were going to put him on on Tuesday when Jack came off but 70 minutes might have been too much.
“He just needs a little bit more game-time to get him over the injury.”
Pools are seven points from safety with 10 matches remaining.
And, while the visit of the fourth-placed Glovers presents a tougher test than Tuesday’s clash with The U’s, Hughes says his players must better their one-point return.
“We’ve been saying for some time now that every game is a cup final,” he went on.
“They are in a good vein of form, the wee boy (Paddy) Madden is scoring goals for fun.
“They are way above us in the league but we shouldn’t be fazed by that.
“Take on the underdog tag and that might help with mindset, but we’re more than capable of beating them.
“And make no mistake, we need wins right now.
“If come Saturday night we have picked up three points and everyone else around us has lost then that would make for a good weekend.”
Meanwhile, Nathan Luscombe is set to replace Baldwin in the middle of the park and earn his first start of the campaign.
POOLS (probable): Flinders; Austin, Collins, Hartley, Horwood; Walton, Humphreys, Luscombe; Franks, Poole, Wyke. Subs: McHugh, James, Howard, Rutherford, Sweeney, Holden, Monkhouse.