COLIN Cooper will be without skipper Antony Sweeney for tomorrow’s trip to York City – but there could be first league starts for Simon Walton and Steve Howard.
Sweeney was forced off during the first half of last Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat to Southend United, a subsequent scan revealing a torn calf muscle.
Walton was his replacement against the Shrimpers and the midfielder impressed Cooper.
“At the end of a game you have to give people a pat on the back when it’s deserved,” the Pools chief told SportMail ahead of the A19 derby, for which 1,500 Poolies are expected to travel.
“He came on last week and had been frustrated not to have started.
“I have to say he did his cause the world of good.
“My thoughts on Simon are that he’s a very good, technical footballer.
“We need people who can handle a football but we also need people who are heart and soul into what we’re trying to do.
“But I have to say that was Simon’s best contribution during the time I’ve been here.
“His contribution during training this week has also been outstanding.
“Hopefully that’s a positive step.
“At the end of the day, no matter what people think about Simon, he’s a technically-gifted footballer.”
And, of Sweeney, Cooper revealed: “Tony’s not so good.
“He tweaked his hip-flex on Friday and came in on Saturday and said he was great.
“But unfortunately he tweaked his calf.
“He’s been for scan and it’s not great news, he’s got a tear in his calf.
“That rules him out for this weekend certainly.
“But with the miracles Buster (physio Ian Gallagher) can work it may be next week, who knows.”
Striker Howard, meanwhile, could well be in the frame for his first Pools start of the campaign.
“We’ve been working hard with Steve and doing extra sessions with him,” Cooper explained.
“Sometimes, when you’re 37, it’s about getting your body up to speed and knowing your own body.
“He feels like he’s not too far away now.
“After a half-hour cameo last week and another full week of training he is right in the mix for tomorrow.”
POOLS (probable): Flinders; Austin, Baldwin, Burgess, Holden; Franks, Walton, Walker, Compton; Poole; Howard. Subs: Rafferty, Richards, Rodney, James, Collins, Boagey, Hawkins.