Hartlepool United caretaker Antony Sweeney hails ex-Newcastle United youngster Jamie Sterry as one of the 'best one v one defenders' in the league ahead of Forest Green Rovers test
There were two big wins for Hartlepool United on the pitch this week.
Not only did Pools secure a remarkable cup upset in their win over League One promotion contenders Wycombe Wanderers at Adams Park on Tuesday night, but caretaker boss Antony Sweeney was also able to welcome back Jamie Sterry into his starting line-up against the Chairboys.
Former Newcastle United defender Sterry has been out of action since being forced off in the dramatic win over Harrogate Town last month with a hamstring strain and Pools have remained cautious over the 25-year-old’s return in the weeks since.
But Sterry was able to come through the full 90 minutes unscathed in midweek to hand Sweeney a boost ahead of a challenging fixture in League Two with table topping Forest Green Rovers at the Suit Direct Stadium this weekend.
“It was massive to have him back,” said Sweeney.
“Regardless of the results while he’s been out, we’ve missed Jamie and that’s no slight on Reagan [Ogle] because he brings something totally different and he’s been fantastic for us with his pace and energy.
“But Jamie is probably one of the best one v one defenders [in the league] when he’s isolated in wide areas.
“Very rarely does someone get the better of him consistently throughout the 90 minutes,” he added.
“That type of defender, along with the quality he’s got with the ball at his feet, has been massive for us and he’ll continue to be massive for us.
“But he needs to have the players around him to perform as well and he had everyone around him doing just that.”
Sterry’s successful return in the week should see him in line to maintain his spot in Sweeney’s starting XI for the visit of Forest Green on Saturday.
And Pools will head into the game knowing that the fortress that has been the Suit Direct Stadium in 2021 has been breached somewhat following last week’s stoppage time defeat to Newport County.
On the back of a gruelling trip to Buckinghamshire in midweek against higher league opposition, Pools couldn’t have asked for a tougher fixture than against the League Two leaders, with Rovers yet to lose on their travels this season.
“It’s a tough test, it would have been a tough test even if we had a free week to work on it but we’ve obviously been away for the two days with the club thankfully giving us the luxury of coming down to Wycombe on Monday and staying over,” explained Sweeney.
“It was a long journey back and I expect a few weary bodies in the back end of the week but we’ll pick a side, if I’m still in charge, that we think can perform.
“There are no givens, we need to be at it and perform like we did on Tuesday. If we do then we’ll stack the odds in our favour.
“You can’t guarantee wins but if you can put in good performances you’ll win more often than you’ll lose.”