Hartlepool United assistant manager Michael Nelson gives an update on the status of manager Graeme Lee as the Pools boss misses Rochdale defeat after testing positive for COVID-19

Michael Nelson says Hartlepool United manager Graeme Lee is feeling the effects of COVID-19 but is hopeful he will be able to return to his duties by the end of the week.

By Joe Ramage
Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 6:00 am

Pools were dealt a significant blow in their preparations ahead of their trip to Rochdale on Easter Monday when it was revealed manager Lee had tested positive fort the virus late on Sunday and, as such, would not be making the journey to the Crown Oil Arena.

Instead, duties were passed over to assistant manager Nelson who oversaw a late defeat despite his side taking an early lead.

Bryn Morris’ fine volley after little more than 10 minutes proved Pools had not been affected by the disruption to their pre-game routine as they would go on to impress throughout the first 45 minutes.

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Michael Nelson gave an update on Graeme Lee after the Hartlepool United boss missed the defeat at Rochdale following a positive COVID-19 test. Picture by FRANK REID

But things changed dramatically after the restart as the home side levelled the scores on the hour mark through Jimmy Keohane’s close range finish before Max Clark saw a goal ruled out moments later.

Pools were unable to respond to the setback though and remained camped inside their own half before Eoghan O’Connell fired an excellent winner deep into stoppage.

Nelson revealed manager Lee had been in contact with him and the rest of the staff throughout events at the Crown Oil Arena but Pools’ assistant hopes Lee will be able to return to his post ahead of the visit of Swindon Town this weekend.

“He was feeling the effects of it last night and again this morning,” Nelson said after the defeat at Rochdale.

Michael Nelson took charge as Hartlepool United suffered a late defeat at Rochdale. (Credit: Mike Morese | MI New)

“But hopefully it’ll pass within a day or two. I spoke with him after the game and he sounds alright barring the frustration of the game but hopefully he’ll be fine.

Nelson added to The Mail: “It was one less voice but he was in constant touch adding bits and pieces to the mix but hopefully he’ll be back as soon as possible.

“We’ll see how he is over the next couple of days. I’m sure he’ll be testing every day and once he delivers a negative result I’m sure he’ll be back in.”

Nelson is no stranger to taking control of first team duties with his experience as both an assistant and a manager prior to becoming part of Lee’s backroom staff in December.

And with Antony Sweeney, who completed a month in interim charge of Pools in November, alongside him, Nelson believes the match day routine did not change too much despite the loss of Lee.

“The work was done over the weekend and we knew we’d be in touch with the gaffer so there wasn’t a lot of change,” said Nelson.

“Myself and Sweens and the staff just went about our business. We spoke to the gaffer prior to the game and asked him what messages he wanted to give the lads in terms of what we’ve worked on.

“But the lads have played enough games under him now, and trained under him, to know what he wants.

“So it was just about reiterating them messages and trying to get them to take it on board and in the first half they did but the second half, unfortunately, we just couldn’t get out of that rut we were in for the first 10 minutes.”