Hartlepool United midfielder set for first-team return as Matthew Bates fronts up to selection conundrum
Hartlepool United boss Matthew Bates is set to be boosted by the return of midfielder Conor Newton.
Newton comes back into the first-team fold having been out of the squad for the Dover Athletic defeat at the weekend with an illness.
The timely return of the former Newcastle United kid gives Bates another option in an area where he has issues at present.
Down at the Crabble, Bates was forced to field Ryan Donaldson in a more central role. And while the winger was Pools' stand out man, it is not his natural position. Paddy McLaughlin and Nicky Featherstone partnered the wideman on Saturday.
Josh Hawkes did his cause no harm with a fine solo goal on the south coast, and comes into Bates' thinking particularly if he sticks with the three man central midfield.
Question marks remain over whether Liam Noble will be picked by the manager.
Noble was dropped from the matchday 16 after an argument on the team bus on the way down to Dover and watched the 2-1 loss from the stands.
The Mail understands a clear-the-air meeting was lined up for yesterday. It is not clear whether this did take place, as planned.
He is, however, expected to return to the squad.
Elsewhere on the injury front Bates will have to do without Andrew Davies, who will have to sit out four weeks with a calf problem.
"It is a big blow," said the manager on Davies' injury.
"We got him scanned on Thursday and it was bad news.
"We didn't expect it - we thought it was a neuro problem but it turned out to be a calf strain."