Key Hartlepool United duo could return at Gateshead
Key duo Nicky Featherstone and Michael Ledger are in contention to return to the first-team fold for today's visit to Gateshead.
Illness and injury over the festive period have prevented manager Craig Harrison’s coaching staff carrying out full blown training sessions - with just nine bodies fit to train at one point last week.
But, despite Kenton Richardson breaking his collarbone in Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Maidenhead United, Harrison is hopeful there is light at the end of the tunnel on the injury front.
“All the lads who have been ill last week got through a training session on Friday, but Saturday was too soon for some of them,” said Harrison.
“We had Luke (George), Liam (Donnelly), Jack (Munns), James (Thorne) were all ill - some trained Thursday, all on Friday, so we hope the next few days will give them the chance to shake it off.
“One we do have back is Lewis (Hawkins), who has served his suspension. But with Kenton being out long-term it is a case of one in and one out for us, which is a real shame.
“But it is what it is and we will get on with it.
“Nicky Featherstone is training lightly again, Ledger should be OK and we will see how we are.”
The weekend loss was hardly the way Harrison or the players wanted to start their festive period.
Pools had taken the lead, and were in total control in the encounter courtesy of a towering, old fashioned-style header from Jake Cassidy, but let things slip in the second 45 when Louis Laing turned into his own net before Sean Marks stole in to net a late winner for the part-time outfit.
Reflecting back on the loss, Harrison was angry at the way his side gifted the opposition goals at the Vic, throwing away yet another lead on home turf.
“It’s a game we looked like winning, I can’t lie,” he said.
“Whoever you play against you have to shut the back door and we didn’t defend like we should do.
“It was poor, very poor from us.
“We were on top and in cruise control. I’ve said a million times and that second goal would kill them off, but it’s embarrassing we need a second goal to win a game.
“We want a second goal, we could have had three of four but you have to win a game 1-0 and move on. We again showed our fragilities.
“Goals we concede are as bad as others we concede. We have done double sessions in training on defending. I’ve been more worried about it than anything else. Defensively we have been poor.
“We are out there in training morning and afternoon, sessions, reviewing goals, showing how the opposition score, where they come from.
“It’s there to see and it seems we go into a game and look frail as a defensive unit.”