Who will John Hughes play alongside Hartlepool United ace Luke James at Tranmere?

STAR PERFORMER: Luke James against Bury. Picture by FRANK REID
STAR PERFORMER: Luke James against Bury. Picture by FRANK REID

JOHN Hughes will trial several of his squad alongside Luke James on the training ground as he bids to unearth a striking partnership to take on Tranmere Rovers.

The Pools boss has seen his attacking personnel decimated in recent weeks, Steve Howard having been allowed to join Sheffield Wednesday on loan, Charlie Wyke returning to parent club Middlesbrough because of a pelvic problem and James Poole still struggling with a knee injury.

It leaves James as the only recognised frontman available for selection ahead of the trip to The Wirral.

Among those vying for a more advanced role will be Andy Monkhouse, scorer of both goals in the 2-0 win over Bury last weekend, Ritchie Humphreys, who deputised for Wyke in the second half of that game, Jonathan Franks and Antony Sweeney.

The latter returned to training yesterday following a two-week hamstring lay-off and could be thrown straight in to the starting XI.

“I will have to look at some partnerships and combinations to see if anything catches my eye,” said Hughes when pressed on a replacement for Wyke.

“I’ll look at it in training and we’ve designed it so that we can try a few different things.

“We might have to come up with a system which keeps us in the game to begin with.

“But at the same time it’s one we must win it.”