Rob Jones set for long-awaited Hartlepool United return

Rob Jones
Rob Jones

After a number of false dawns tomorrow should bring the return of Rob Jones to the Hartlepool United first-team.

Week after week manager Craig Hignett has talked about the readiness of the veteran centre-back to return.

But each matchday a little niggle here or there has prevented the 37-year-old providing much needed support to Pools’ beleaguered backline, which has conceded nine goals in their last three.

While Jones was close to a return against both Rochdale and Stamford, he was not risked by Hignett.

But tomorrow’s match against Cheltenham could be just the perfect time for Hignett to throw Jones in with Matthew Bates.

The gaffer said: “Rob is close, he’s trained, but he didn’t feel we should risk him after being out so long, he’s not 100 per cent yet so we gave him a couple of extra days.

“I think you can see the difference in defence when Batesy and Rob play.

“Batesy came through the games this week comfortably, talking and pulling people into position.

“Without the two centre-halves and we go with the young ones it costs us goals. Results and games have proved that.

“Having them back is a big bonus and we will concede less sloppy ones I’m sure.

“Barnet was a prime example, we gave poor goals away all season, but it’s down to organisation and to give set-piece goals away is galling for me as everyone has a job and everyone has a man to pick up – stop him scoring.

“With two experienced voices there then players will be wary of letting their man run off them.”

While there are selection decisions to be made all over the Pools XI, one player who is almost certain to keep their place in the XI.

Hignett said: “Nicky Deverdics has taken his opportunity.

“We haven’t got the dynamic pace or running of Nath (Thomas) but Nicky can spot a pass and score a goal.

“We are a different team when Nicky plays.”