Trevor Carson ‘champing at the bit’ to play in Hartlepool relegation clash at Cheltenham

Back with his gloves on: Trevor Carson. Picture by FRANK REID
Back with his gloves on: Trevor Carson. Picture by FRANK REID

Matthew Bates admits he has a dilemma whether he throws the goalkeeping gloves to Trevor Carson for tomorrow’s must-win game at Cheltenham.

Carson was not expected to play for the rest of the season after having shoulder surgery at the turn of the year.

He’s an option and certainly one we are thinking about, but we don’t know yet, we’ll see how it goes

MATTHEW BATES

The 29-year-old has not featured in 2017, with Joe Fryer doing a good job between the sticks after former boss Dave Jones replaced Carson’s understudy, Adam Bartlett, with the on-loan Middlesbrough stopper.

Fryer has saved Pools from heavier defeats against Leyton Orient and Barnet, but Bates explains there is a selection poser for the trip to Whaddon Road.

“It certainly is,” he said. “Trev is champing at the bit, as he always is, and we’ve had to hold him back a bit.

“He wants to do extra and we’ve been conscious of the operation he’s had.

“He’s an option and certainly one we are thinking about.

“But we don’t know yet, we’ll see how it goes.”

It would represent a huge game for the ex-Sunderland keeper, who left Cheltenham in 2015 to sign for Pools.

Bates told SportMail he would wait until tomorrow morning before making the final call on the quandary with his fellow coaches Billy Paynter, Stuart Parnaby and Ian Gallagher.

The odds would seem to be on Carson starting, though Bates says the Northern Irishman will be a vital figure, wherever he is in the group this weekend.

“Regardless of whether he plays or he doesn’t, he’s still going to be in the squad.

“To have him there with us in the dressing broom, his leadership skills, will help the lads through.

“If he does play, it will give the lads in front of him that extra bit of confidence.”

Carson has trained all week at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium where Pools have been going through their paces to prepare for the game against the Robins who are two places and four points above them in the League Two table.

Bates has been delighted with the response of the players.

“We saw a reaction from them straight away and it’s carried on,” said the 30-year-old.

“We’ve had some really good sessions.

“We’ve planned them on how we are going to play [at Cheltenham] and it’s worked well, the players have responded.

“The lads have asked questions on what we are doing and that’s good, we want an inquisitive dressing room.

“The players will know the jobs they have to do.”

Tomorrow’s game will come too soon for Kenton Richardson, who is recovering from an ankle injury, though he has a chance of playing against Doncaster next week.

Liam Donnelly, sent off at Leyton Orient and suspended for this weekend’s game, has also returned to training as Bates reported.

He added: “Liam has been struggling with an injury, we know he’s suspended for Saturday, but he’s come back a probably a couple of days early to help the boys out in training. I can’t fault him.

“This game is too soon for Kenton but possibly he could be fit for next weekend.”

Bates’s other main poser is whether he selects himself!

The answer is likely to be no, though the name Bates will be on the bench, just in case he’s needed with Brad Walker and Scott Harrison set to be re-united at the heart of the defence.

Cheltenham (probable) Brown, Winchester, Boyle, Onariase, Cranston, Storer, Rowe, Pell, Holman, Wright, Waters.

Subs: Kitscha, Downes, Munns, Dayton, Wootton, Davis, Plavotic.

Pools (probable): Carson, Magnay, Walker, Harrison, Deverdics, Featherstone, Woods, Alessandra, Thomas, Oates, Amond

Subs: Fryer, Bates, Hawkins, Rooney, Rodney, Blackford