Graeme Lee gives injury update on strikers Luke Molyneux and Mark Cullen ahead of Hartlepool United's Boxing Day trip to face Mansfield Town

Hartlepool United may have been disrupted by a number of positive COVID-19 cases over the last week but the break in action has allowed Graeme Lee to get a number of injured players back into contention.

By Joe Ramage
Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 4:45 pm

Pools’ League Two trip to Colchester United was postponed due to a number of COVID-19 cases within the squad which Lee has suggested totalled four players - all of whom are expected to return to training this week following COVID protocols ahead of Boxing Day’s trip to face Mansfield Town.

But away from COVID-19 Lee has had a number of walking wounded in recent weeks following four games in 10 days since his arrival as manager earlier this month.

And two of those carrying knocks have been striking duo Mark Cullen and Luke Molyneux with Lee admitting at least one of the frontmen was set to miss out on the trip to Colchester last weekend had the game gone ahead.

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Luke Molyneux and Mark Cullen have played an important role for Hartlepool United since Graeme Lee's arrival. Picture by FRANK REID

But the break in play since Pools’ last fixture, a goalless draw with Scunthorpe United at the Suit Direct Stadium, has allowed both Molyneux and Cullen to return to the grass this week.

“This week they have [been back training].

“I think one of them would have been missing at the weekend through it but they’re back now so hopefully, touching wood, everyone’s fit and firing,” Lee told The Mail.

“We’ve had a couple of lads with injuries who have come back in. I think we were missing three who would have missed the weekend so that’s good to get them all back on the field.

Mark Cullen and Luke Molyneux have each been carrying knocks in recent weeks. Picture by FRANK REID

“It’s just now hopefully the lads who have been off ill can come back in and start bedding in tomorrow.”

Not only has the break come at a time to allow those with niggles to heal, it has allowed both Lee and assistant manager Michael Nelson the opportunity to instil some more of their ideas and philosophies on the squad away from the game-to-game routine.

And with a busy schedule over the Christmas period that will see Pools face five games over a two week period, should all games go ahead, this time on the training ground has been vital for Lee.

“More time on the grass means we can start implementing a few more things which is great.

“Obviously the uncertainty with what’s going on at the club has been a bit difficult but managing on the grass has been good and the stuff we’re trying to put in place has been good and the lads are responding really well.

“But we’re missing four lads on the training field who could be key players for us as well. It’s good what we’re getting but ideally with a full squad would be better.

“There’s been more than four as we’ve had a few niggly injuries but they’re all hopefully back in and we’ll have the full squad back in tomorrow which is good.

“Everyday since I’ve come in, the lads have trained with intensity and that intensity is exactly what we’re looking for.”

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