Graeme Lee has this message for Hartlepool United captain and former Hull City and Walsall man Nicky Featherstone

Graeme Lee has explained the reasoning behind Nicky Featherstone's absence at the weekend and has insisted the Hartlepool United captain is vital to his plans going forward.

By Joe Ramage
Tuesday, 12th April 2022, 4:45 pm

Featherstone, 33, was a surprise omission from the Pools starting line-up as they faced League Two leaders Forest Green Rovers.

The Pools skipper has been one of the most utilised players in the squad this season with 45 appearances in total, 38 of those coming in the league.

As a matter of fact, the only games in which Featherstone has missed in the league, previous to Saturday, were against Barrow and Crawley Town having been suspended for both due to a red card picked up in the draw with Exeter City in January.

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Nicky Featherstone was rested for Hartlepool United's trip to Forest Green Rovers. Picture by FRANK REID.

But Featherstone was left out for the trip to Forest Green with Lee using the fixture as an opportunity to experiment with his side and take a closer look at midfielder Bryn Morris on his road to recovery from an ankle injury alongside Mark Shelton.

Morris completed the full 90 minutes at the New Lawn Stadium while Shelton was replaced by Joe White just after the hour mark with Featherstone remaining an unused substitute as Pools claimed a 1-1 draw against Rob Edwards’ side.

Both Featherstone and Lee could be seen in conversation long after the final whistle out on the field with Lee perhaps explaining to his captain the decision not to introduce him into the game.

Nevertheless, Lee insists Featherstone remains a crucial part of his plans moving forward into next season with the 33-year-old still with one year remaining on his current deal at the Suit Direct Stadium.

Graeme Lee has reiterated the importance of Hartlepool United midfielder Nicky Featherstone. (Credit: Will Matthews | MI News)

“I spoke to Feaths and it was just more about trying to give other people the game time and having a look at different things going forward,” Lee explained to The Mail.

“I’ve got Feath and Crawfs now tied up for next season and hopefully we’ll have Bryn as well if we can get something sorted with the clause in the loan agreement.

“I just wanted to look at what we had and what we can plan to do going forward so I spoke to Feath earlier in the week and I spoke to him when I named the team just to try and explain why and tell him he’s been absolutely immense for me.

“He’s a big part of this club for me going forward which I hope he can see that side of it because we all know what Nicky is like, he wants to play every minute of every game and he has done for me and I appreciate that.

“He’ll be disappointed not to play, and rightly so, but it’s nothing to do with his performance it’s just about having a look at other players.

“It’s the same again next week [against Port Vale]. I want to get Jake Hull on the pitch and give him a shot so we’ll have a look at that as well.”

Pools host high-flying Port Vale at the Suit Direct Stadium on Good Friday before travelling to Rochdale on Monday and it will be interesting to see how Lee lines up against the Valiants, including whether Featherstone makes his expected return to the starting XI, for the start of the Easter weekend double-header.