THERE’S been a familiar face at the heart of Hartlepool United’s early-season rise.
Few expected Ritchie Humphreys to feature prominently this term, yet the 33-year-old has already completed more full 90 minutes than he did during the whole of last season.
Thrust into the side in the wake of the injury crisis which threatened to scupper Pools’ early progress, the club record appearance holder has now deputised in three different positions.
But in each role he has excelled and, such has been Humphreys’ renaissance, boss Mick Wadsworth admits it’ll be a very tough call should the time come to leave him out.
“The injuries we had presented others with an opportunity to come in,” he told SportMail.
“Ritchie has been one of those players and you have to say he, like Paul Murray, has been excellent.
“That might give me a few selection decisions down the line but those are the sort of problems that, as a manager, you welcome.”
Humphreys told us last week that he was reaping the reward of a full pre-season programme.
He’s now played every single minute of the last five matches and Wadsworth agrees the summer schedule has given his club captain the perfect platform from which to launch his season.
“He’s had an uninterrupted summer, which he didn’t have last year,” he explained.
“He didn’t join training until late last year – I’d been here quite a few weeks before he spent any time with me because he was recovering from a knee problem he had.
“The benefit of the pre-season is there for all to see – he’s been smashing and has done really, really well.
“It’s come at a time when we’ve had to change the team quite radically because of injuries but he’s came in and been terrific.”
FULL story in Wednesday’s Mail ...