Dave Challinor on the return of ex-Sunderland winger Luke Molyneux to the Hartlepool United first team picture and is he in contention for FA Cup third round tie at Oxford United?

Luke Molyneux made his long awaited return to the Hartlepool United matchday squad when he came off the bench for the final 15-minutes of the New Year’s Day defeat against Harrogate Town.

Friday, 3rd January 2020, 6:00 am
Luke Molyneux of Hartlepool United warms up during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Harrogate Town at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Wednesday 1st January 2020. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News & Sport )
Luke Molyneux of Hartlepool United warms up during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Harrogate Town at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Wednesday 1st January 2020. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News & Sport )

The 21-year-old hadn’t featured in a competitive match for Pools since making his loan move from Sunderland permanent during the summer.

He starred in pre-season before suffering a serious foot injury in a friendly against York City back in July which subsequently sidelined the winger for the first half of the 2019-20 campaign.

Now Hartlepool manager Dave Challinor is hoping to have Molyneux back starting matches before the end of the month.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“The biggest thing for me is around him because he’s still a way off,” Challinor said.

“If Hawkesy [Josh Hawkes] had been fit, Luke wouldn’t have been involved.

“He’s back training but he’s a long way away from where he needs to be so I’ve put it on him that he shouldn’t expect to be involved properly until he can complete 90-minutes.

“That’s where he’s at, he’ll continue to be worked and we were in a situation against Harrogate with the attacking options we had available, it made sense to have him on the bench if we needed something for the last 20-minutes.

“Squad wise, we’re pretty short in terms of the players we’ve got available for the FA Cup so chances are he’ll be involved again.

“The games will be a consequence of what he’s doing because he’ll be well worked on the Friday and running hard then and if he feels terrible on a Saturday then I’m not too concerned.

“Our aim is getting him completing at least 75-minutes, hopefully 90-minutes by the end of the month.

“If he does that then he’ll be back in the fold because he’s got the quality and he’s done really well over the last couple of weeks.

“When I spoke about him and his situation, I was more concerned than what I let on but in fairness he’s really kicked on and I think him getting back into full contract training and the matchday squad will give him a big boost – this is only the start for him.”