Hartlepool United defender Gary Liddle getting 'closer and closer' to National League return after three months out
Gary Liddle is ‘getting closer and closer’ to his first competitive appearance for Hartlepool United in three months.
The Pools centre-back has been reduced to just three appearances this season after suffering a grade three tear to his groin in the 6-0 FA Cup victory at Ilkeston Town.
But after playing 45-minutes at Sunderland last week, manager Dave Challinor feels the 34-year-old is ready to complete a full 90-minute run out.
Despite this, Liddle hasn’t made the journey down to Weymouth for this weekend’s National League clash with Challinor explaining his side is ‘more or less picking itself’ following four straight wins.
"We’re hoping to arrange a friendly for Tuesday, similar to what we did against Sunderland in order to get Lidds close to 90-minutes,” Challinor told The Mail.
“Also for the lads who have been on the periphery a little bit to give them a bit of football which will keep them right at it and show them that they’re ready for when an opportunity comes about.
“Lidds hasn’t travelled [to Weymouth], more because we want to try and get him 90-minutes in a friendly before.
"He’s training fully and I’d have had no issues including him in the squad this weekend but at the moment the squad is more or less picking itself given the way the lads have performed. He’s back and he’s getting closer and closer day by day.”
Elsewhere in the squad, Pools have had no other major concerns with Ryan Donaldson back in contention following a heel injury and Lewis Cass expected to make his return after sitting out the last four games due to a hamstring problem.
But Aaron Cunningham, who is currently on loan at Blyth Spartans, has been sidelined with a shin injury.
“It’s been a great week training for us, everyone has trained this week,” Challinor added.
“The only one who has a problem is Aaron Cunningham who’s out on loan at Blyth. He’s got a cut on his shin but the fact their league has been suspended gives him a little bit more time to recover.
“With our squad, everyone is fit and training and we want to make sure we finish it off with a positive result and then we’ll look at where we are next week.”