Craig Hignett addresses five burning issues facing Pools

At the start of the week we highlighted five key issues Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett should address.

Friday, 21st October 2016, 11:35 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 6:39 pm
Craig Hignett.

Heading into this weekend's clash with Leyton Orient at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium, Pools boss Craig Hignett took the time to answer questions on each one those problematic areas.

1.Service to Nathan Thomas needs to improve

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He was the man of the moment just a fortnight ago. Fast forward to Saturday and the wide player had, yet again, one of his more quiet days.

This was one issue from Saturday. Pools, at times, struggled to get the ball to Thomas in the right areas.

Hignett said: "We haven't won enough games because we haven't been able to score enough goals.

"One lapse in concentration is then costing us.

"Performance wise, apart from Crawley, where we stopped playing after 15 minutes, I have been really pleased with the way we have played going forward.

"The players believe in the system. They need to believe in what they can do as players - too many of them are hard on themselves at this club.

"Last week we should have won the game, no doubt. Keith Curle said they hammered us - he must have been at a different game from me. It was three points dropped without a shadow of a doubt.

"When you see Kemar Roofe go for £3million from Oxford United or Callum O’Dowda was bought for £1.5m plus add ons, and they both played in League Two, I can see a player like Nath going for seven figures."

2. Address Pools’ susceptibility to crosses

Whether it be from open play or from set-pieces Pools seems to have a problem with width and balls coming into the box.

Hignett said: "Last week Toto (Nsiala) decides to mark someone totally different to the player he has been marking the whole game for the third goal.

"And we knew they only had one threat.

"But this is an example of playing the game and not doing the job at hand.

"When you look at the goals we have conceded from set-pieces it is criminal - we have to stop it.

"It is OK telling someone, then spending 45 minutes on the training pitch showing them.

"But sometimes you have to do more than that. That is why we are doing a video session. We want the players to see exactly what has gone wrong.

"If the players do their jobs, if they are professional and don’t get carried away with doing something silly in the heat of battle we will be OK.

"The last set of games we have only conceded two from open play.

"So the defence is not an area that concerns me but we do need to have a look at it."

3. Keep faith with Padraig Amond?

Week-in, week-out there have been calls for the Irishman to drop out of the team.

Hignett addressed not only those calls from Pools' fans, but also the question about why Billy Paynter has dropped out of the first-team picture.

The gaffer said: "I have had absolutely no issues at all with Podge - he works his socks off every game,” said Hignett.

“"Even if he is not scoring he contributes to the team.

“"He has been bang on the money in terms of scoring goals.

"I am pleased the goals are flowing for him.

"It is tough for Bill and it is tough for me. He was the main man last year and he is great around the dressing room.

“Podge is among the goals so Billy will have to be patient. He will get his chance this season.

“When he gets it he has to give me a headache. He needs to make it tough."

4. Find a place for Liam Donnelly, and stick with it

In terms of natural ability the Northern Ireland Under-21 captain is by far and away the best defender in Pools squad.

His true position needs to be found, whether that be in midfield, as it was last week, or at the back, as it was previously this season.

Hignett said: "Liam Donnelly has been outstanding. he has been great wherever I have put him.

"Nicky (Featherstone) is back. Woodsy (Michael Woods) is getting his fitness back.

"I am pleased I am getting players back. We have competition for places.

"We play the three but there will always be two who have to sit out. That's just football.

“Liam is calm and composed, breaks play up well and loves a tackle.

"We signed him as a central defender who could play right back.

"We know that first and foremost he is a defender. But we also know he can perform in midfield or left-back or anywhere he needs to."

5. Give Josh Laurent more freedom to roam

Midfielder Laurent, at times, looks a class above this level, but he can find it difficult to get in the game, also.

Hignett said: "We have got some really talented players at this football club, who haven't played a lot of games between them.

"It shows at times. We are a bit naive at times. Maybe getting some experience back will help.

"Nicky (Featherstone) has been a very big player for us since I have come to this club.

"He knows his role really well. He is experienced and has played a lot games. He can influence others around him.

"He has not been happy sitting out, twiddling his thumbs in the stands.

"It is tough. He hasn't felt part of it.

"He is chomping at the bit to get back involved again. And his presence should help in midfield."