Antony Sweeney will go up against his former Hartlepool United teammate Darrell Clarke at Port Vale with Jordan Cook and Jamie Sterry to miss out

Antony Sweeney is looking forward to reconciling with some familiar faces on Saturday when Hartlepool travel to Port Vale.

Friday, 26th November 2021, 4:45 pm

Pools head to Vale Park on a run of four straight defeats in League Two that has seen them slide into the bottom half of the table and Sweeney will be coming up against an old friend in the dugout as he looks to end that run.

Darrell Clarke spent six years with Pools from 2001-2007 making over 130 appearances for the club, featuring alongside Sweeney on a number of occasions.

And the Pools interim boss admitted he has already exchanged words with his former teammate ahead of Saturday’s clash.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Jordan Cook remains the only long term absentee for Hartlepool United. Picture by FRANK REID

“There’ll be plenty of familiar faces, none more so than Darrell,” Sweeney told The Mail.

“I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago and he said he hopes I'm not in the hotseat when we play because he’s going to teach me a lesson.

“He’s got an unbelievable record as a manager. He's good at what he does. He gets teams to win. I’ve got a lot of respect for Darrell, he’s a good friend of mine so I’m expecting him to have his players fired up.”

Clarke is not the only familiar face at Port Vale this season with two of Pools’ promotion winning defenders among the Valiants’ ranks.

Darrell Clarke spent a number of years at the Suit Direct Stadium (Photo by Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images)

Lewis Cass made 35 appearances for Pools on-loan from Newcastle United last season while Ryan Johnson enjoyed his most productive season to date before making the switch in the summer with Brad Walker and Devante Rodney also on the books at Vale Park.

“It’ll be nice to see them. The likes of Brad, Devante, Ryan Johnson and Lewis Cass, they all at various times are players who have contributed to this football club.

“Cass was a great lad. He was fantastic to have around the dressing room. He came in and contributed to what was a successful season for us and played a key role within that.

“[Ryan’s] another one that came in and more than contributed to the success we had. Another great lad in and around the dressing room who was never an issue and the type of character you want at your football club.

“Maybe from his point of view it hasn't started the way he would have liked [at Port Vale] but I’m pretty sure Jonno will find his feet.”

Pools will have an ex-Port Vale man of their own on Saturday with striker Mark Cullen set to continue to lead the line, but while Jamie Sterry will miss through suspension Sweeney revealed he has a number of options available to him.

“Cooky is now the only real one that's not joined in with the group. He’s very close to joining in with the squad of players to train but we’ve got to be mindful he’s been out a long time.

“There’s a few knocks and niggles like there always will be at this stage of the season. If you only play and start games when you’re 100 per cent fit you’ll very rarely play football.

“There’s always something that keeps you from feeling 100 per cent. We’ve got players who aren't 100 per cent it’s safe to say. How far short of that will vary between different players.”

A message from the Football Clubs Editor

Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Hartlepool United coverage 365 days a year.

This depth of coverage costs, so to help us maintain the high-quality reporting that you are used to, please consider taking out a subscription to our new sports-only package here.

Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor.