HARTLEPOOL United will be without the star service of Player of the Year Antony Sweeney for the remainder of August – with Paul Murray set to deputise against Walsall tomorrow (kick off 3pm).
Sweeney suffered a groin strain just minutes after scoring during Tuesday’s 1-1 Carling Cup draw with Sheffield United, Pools eventually exiting the competition on penalties.
The 27-year-old will now sit out tomorrow’s league clash with the Saddlers as well as Tuesday’s visit of Huddersfield Town and the trips to Stevenage and Rochdale.
Boss Mick Wadsworth is reluctant to put a time frame on his expected absence and is hoping that the healing powers which have seen Sweeney recover from suspected ligament damage in less than a week will again work their magic.
“Tony’s going to miss a few games, there’s no doubt about that,” explained the first-team coach.
“How many we don’t know yet.
“He’s sore but he feels better than he did and he’s got a fantastic record of healing quickly.
“We’ve got a rough time of how long he’ll be out in our heads but I’ve never been for taking too much notice of that unless it’s an injury you can pin down like a cruciate reconstruction or something like that.
“He’ll be back as soon as he can because he’s got a great attitude to the rehab work and is a quick healer.
“He’s shown that on more than one occasion, as he did after the game on Saturday (at MK Dons) when he get a hefty whack on his leg late on.
“Tony always surprises me when he’s had an injury and hopefully he’ll do the same again this time.”
Sweeney’s place in the centre of midfield will be filled by anchorman Murray for the visit of Dean Smith’s side.
Nathan Luscombe is also in the running for a full debut but SportMail understands Wadsworth will side with experience and give Murray, left on the bench during the opening two matches, the nod.
“When you’ve got a man like Paul Murray banging on the door that’s a really healthy situation,” said the boss when asked about the ability to deal with Sweeney’s loss.
“We talk about that word ‘balance’ in the squad and I think we’ve got quite a few players out of the team who think they should be in it.
“James Brown will be fit soon and Colin Larkin’s back in training and had looked very good until his injury.
“And then you’ve got Steve Haslam, Nathan Luscombe and James Poole who all think they should be in the team – and that’s great.”