Dave Challinor drops team selection hints ahead of Barrow as Hartlepool United look to organise friendly to get players up to speed

Hartlepool United are looking to arrange a friendly match next week to help get players up to speed.

Friday, 13th August 2021, 6:00 am

One player in particular is striker Mark Cullen, who missed almost all of pre-season with a hamstring injury.

The 29-year-old has featured as a substitute in Pools’ opening two matches of the campaign and is expected to remain on the bench for the trip to Barrow on Saturday (3pm kick-off).

But manager Dave Challinor expects to be happy for the striker to start matches before the end of August.

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Hartlepool United striker Mark Cullen (photo: HUFC)

"I think he’s a couple of weeks behind at least,” said the Pools boss.

“I’d say this month [he could start] but it’s hard because we’re at a point where we’re away from pre-season but he still needs a pre-season as such so we’ll arrange a game next week to get him minutes as well as the players who need minutes and that will bring him closer.

"We’ll then have the games, like the Papa John’s games towards the end of the month where we can use them in a way that best suits the squad.

He added: "Hopefully we have no new injury concerns ahead of Saturday. There are a few carrying little bits but that’s a management thing and we’ve got to make sure we manage that as best as we can through the first month of the season.”

Challinor made five changes to the side for Tuesday night’s 1-0 Carabao Cup defeat at home to Crewe Alexandra.

Jonny Mitchell, Zaine Francis-Angol, Martin Smith, Matty Daly and Tyler Burey all came into the side following the opening day win.

And when asked if any of them put themselves in frame to start at Holker Street, Challinor told The Mail: “It’s always going to be difficult because it would be unfair to rest players following a good win and then they see their place taken based around what happened on Tuesday.

"There may be changes but they will be hard ones to make if that is the case.

“There will be no second thoughts in terms of us picking a team to go and win at Barrow on Saturday. If that means there are changes in personnel or system then so be it, it’s about winning.”

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