FIVE key questions for Matthew Bates ahead of Barrow relegation six-pointer

Two points from 12. If you look at Hartlepool United's National League record under Matthew Bates it is little write home about.

Tuesday, 20th March 2018, 10:00 am
Hartlepool's Devante Rodney celebrates his last minute equaliser . Picture Andrew Roe/AHPIX LTD

But, those who witnessed the transformation first hand, know there is a lot more to it than that.

Bates has injected confidence into the ranks. Pools seem more organised and sure of themselves as a side. They know what to do and when to do it. Under Craig Harrison the side seemed to lack purpose and identity, although the former boss may refute that claim.

Change off the park and in the dressing-room is one thing, but getting results is a whole different ball game.

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And without a win or two in the next week, that confidence can soon evaporate.

With that in mind, it’s fair to say that despite recent improvements and the best efforts of Bates, alongside coaches Ged McNamee and Ross Turnbull, things are far from perfect at Pools.

Here’s FIVE key questions for Pools caretaker Bates to address ahead of the trip to Cumbria tomorrow.

*Risk Michael Woods or not?

Following the Barrow clash, which many are seeing as a relegation six-pointer, Pools have eight more National League games.

They are going to need every one of their ever decreasing senior squad to step up to the plate in that run-in.

But the one thing they will be keen to avoid is making Woods situation worse, given that he limped off at Fylde with a knee problem.

This is about risk and reward and a lot will depend on how much of a gambler Bates is.

*Is Jack Munns ready to start?

Having spent much of the season out of the first-team picture, Munns is now ready to make an impact at Pools.

Is he ready to start, though? He might just have to if Woods is out.

A player of considerable talent, at this level at least, Munns can have a big say in Pools’ relegation battle.

*Can Pools reproduce their defensive show with different personnel?

Louis Laing was head and shoulders the best defender on the park at the weekend.

Sadly, we’ve not been able to say that very often this season.

But he will have a different partner tomorrow, with Scott Harrison likely to come straight back in from suspension and Liam Donnelly away with Northern Ireland.

They’ve not looked the best together this season. Tomorrow that has to change.

*Recall Devante Rodney?

He’s not been happy at being dropped lately, and that reaction is a positive one from a young lad.

His weekend goal was right out the top drawer and surely puts him in the manager’s thoughts.

But where would he fit in this system? That’s a question for Bates. It might be tough to leave him out.

*Shuffle the midfield pack?

With Jake Cassidy and Rhys Oates in such good form, it’s difficult to see Rodney getting into the XI.

To do so, Bates may need to tweak his system and drop one of the midfield four.

He may be loathe to change something that ain’t broke.