Gary Liddle set to replace suspended Nicky Featherstone as Hartlepool United captain for Crystal Palace trip

The excitement is building for Hartlepool United as they prepare to face Crystal Palace in the FA Cup.

Pools are looking to make it into the fifth round for the first time in their history but they will have to do so without captain Nicky Featherstone who is suspended for the trip to Selhurst Park after picking up a red card in last week’s goalless draw with Exeter City.

Featherstone’s loss will be a blow to Graeme Lee with the 33-year-old an integral part of Pools’ setup.

Featherstone has scored two of Pools’ last five goals over recent weeks but it is the midfielder’s composure on the ball which Lee’s side will miss the most this weekend.

Nicky Featherstone is suspended for Hartlepool United's trip to Selhurst Park to take on Crystal Palace. Picture by FRANK REID

“Nicky is a big loss. He’s a big part of the team, he’s a big part of the way we play,” Lee told The Mail.

“He gives the team that little bit of balance and a composure to get on the ball to start us off. Something which would have been vital this weekend. So he will be missed.

“But we’ve got players who have just come in and we’ve got players who have been waiting for their time, so I've no doubt whoever goes in there will be doing everything they can.”

Featherstone’s absence could mean a debut for deadline day recruit Bryn Morris who joined his hometown club from Burton Albion on-loan until the end of the season but it is defender Gary Liddle who will take over the responsibility as captain and will lead the team out at Selhurst Park.

Gary Liddle is set to stand in for Nicky Featherstone and captain Hartlepool United. Picture by FRANK REID

“We’re gutted for Feaths,” said Liddle.

“He’s a good friend of mine at the football club and is someone I speak to quite often.

“Originally he was disappointed he got sent off with half an hour to go at the weekend and I think once the dust had settled with that he soon realised he was going to miss this game.

“I’ve not captained the club many times throughout my career and with the amount of appearances I’ve made a lot of people will be surprised at that.

“But to get the opportunity in the couple of league games that I did last season and to do it again this weekend, potentially, is something I'm really looking forward to.”

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