Who does Craig Hignett believe can fill the hole left behind by Hartlepool's injured winger Nathan Thomas?
Hartlepool United's Craig Hignett is backing Nicky Deverdics to fill the gap left behind by Nathan Thomas.
Having had an up and down start to life at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium, Deverdics has started Pools last two games out on the left. And although he does not have the pace of Thomas, who is out until January with a groin injury, he brings his own skills to the team.
Those talents were there for all to see last weekend when the midfielder cracked home a 30 yard free-kick in the FA Cup win over Stamford. And having followed that up with a positive show in the defeat to Rochdale, Hignett hopes Deverdics can take inspiration from this week and kick-start his own and Hartlepool’s season.
“Hopefully that kicks him off,” said Hignett, whose side take on Cheltenham at the Vic this afternoon.
“It is a position he isn’t that familiar with but we are not asking him to be a Nathan. He hasn’t got what Nath has got.
“He gives us something different to what Nath has. So we will accommodate that. We will change the way we play.
“As a team we probably won’t be as quick on the break. We will look to hold the ball a bit more.
“Nicky is getting better and he wanted to play Wednesday so, as a team, they are improving all the time.
“With the squad I have here I’m lucky with midfielders. I can change and the ones who I throw in will do well.”
The injury suffered by Thomas at Barnet was always going to have to force a rethink by Hignett.
Put simply, there are very few players at this level who are in the same league as the former Sunderland trainee. And as a result he was always going to be tough to replace.
Hignett admits his side do miss Thomas out wide.
But, realistically, any team would.
The gaffer said: “We can’t replace Nath with a like-for-like.
“He can go past any player in any league. He is tricky and rapid.
“We miss that. Every team needs that when games are tight.
“We haven’t got that now so we will play differently.”
Having had a fortnight off after the disappointment of The Hive, Pools return to the rigours of League Two action today.
And Hignett thinks the welcome distraction of cup football, the FA Cup in particular, can help his side string a run together.
He also hopes the team can stop dropping points from winning positions.
“We went through this week all the points we should have had, all the points we have dropped,” Hignett explained.
“It’s 20 points dropped from being in front and then there’s ten points we have lost from refereeing decisions which we have had written apologies for.
“It’s a fine line between being disappointed and being hard on the lads for where we are. But we can’t be too hard because there’s reasons and apologies for where we are, but we have to knuckle down and step up.
“Get some wins, get points on the board. Last season we did it and won five, six on the bounce and we want that now. The league is tight, we need a good run and we hope with experienced players back it will make a difference.”