‘A third of our best team out’ – injury issues mounting for Hartlepool United ahead of Exeter City clash
Hartlepool United could be without four key first team players as Exeter City visit Victoria Park this Saturday (3pm kick-off).
Tyler Burey (hamstring) and League Two August Goal of the Month winner Gavan Holohan (groin) remain out along with young striker Joe Grey (back).
Now Gary Liddle is set to miss the weekend’s game while wing-back David Ferguson is a doubt with a calf problem.
Liddle’s problem was initially highlighted by manager Dave Challinor following last Saturday’s goalless draw at Oldham Athletic.
The Pools boss provided more detail in his Friday press conference as he said: “He’s got an Achilles tendonitis issue which isn’t a serious problem but it’s a chronic problem that unfortunately when you get a bit older and playing a lot of football on different surfaces, you can get those chronic injuries.
“He was a specialist on Thursday and had an injection, not a steroid injection so it won’t cause any damage for him, it’s one he can have as many times as he wants. He felt relief from that but can’t do anything for 48, 72 hours so we’ll do nothing until Monday and then we’ll try to build him up.
“Hopefully that will be the break that is required to reduce the discomfort and pain and allow him to do the rehab and exercises required to play. I’ve had the same injury and it is a case of strengthening not just over days but weeks, months, possibly for the rest of his career.
"It’s simple exercises, eccentric calf stretching and strengthening. The issue is when you’re in pain, it’s difficult to do that and you’re supposed to do it in discomfort, not pain.
"So we’ve been able to dampen that pain and allow him to really focus the next couple of weeks on getting some kind of strength into it. Hopefully it’s an issue that is manageable.”
On Ferguson, Challinor added: “Fergie, similarly, he came off against Oldham and looked like he was struggling.
"A player’s mindset will always be to try and keep playing when it’s a knock like he has. He’s not a severe one but one that we could potentially strap up and chuck him out there if we needed to.
"He's touch and go and we'll have to make a decision whether it's a risk worth taking. If he misses Saturday, it will be a game he misses, fingers crossed.
But there has still been some positive developments on the injury front.
“Joe has joined in and is back in with the group,” Challinor confirmed. “With him and the time he's been out and his age, we need to be cautious with him.
"Gav has been out and is running at a decent pace, next is about his directional stuff and see where we are with that.
“Those ones we’ve got out, Tyler, Lidds, Gav and potentially Fergie, they are four players, who looking at our squad, are probably in our strongest XI which is a third of our best team out.
“But that gives players an opportunity and I’m really excited about that and I hope they take that opportunity. We want to be in a situation when the players we’ve got out are fit, it’s not just a case of them coming straight back into the team without question.”