Hartlepool United get set for Rhys Oates reunion as Graeme Lee shares his views on the Mansfield Town striker

Graeme Lee remains open minded as Hartlepool United get set to welcome former striker Rhys Oates back to the Suit Direct Stadium.

By Joe Ramage
Tuesday, 29th March 2022, 12:30 pm

Pools welcome Mansfield Town this evening and all eyes will be on Oates, 27, who makes his first return to the Suit Direct Stadium after leaving the club last summer despite their promotion back to the Football league.

Oates was the pantomime villain for the travelling Pools supporters in the reverse fixture on Boxing Day, a game the Stags would come from behind to claim a remarkable 3-2 win in having scored three goals in 11 second half minutes.

Oates, who made himself a hero with Pools last season scoring 18 goals to help fire the club back into the Football League, was not on the scoresheet that day in December but arrives in good form having scored four in his last eight appearances for Nigel Clough’s side.

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Rhys Oates played a key role in firing Hartlepool United back to the Football League. Picture by FRANK REID

And asked on what kind of reception he thinks the striker will get from supporters upon his return to the North East, Lee remained rather neutral while acknowledging he would have liked Oates to still be plying his trade at the Suit Direct Stadium.

“I’ve been one of those players who come back and you get a boo,” Lee told The Mail.

“It’s how he responds and what he wants. I have no problem if the fans clap him, I have no problem if the fans boo him.

“He was a player here and he did very well for the club. You can see what type of player he is because he’s doing well for Mansfield.

Rhys Oates has enjoyed a good start to his Mansfield Town career ahead of his return to the Suit Direct Stadium. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

“It would have been lovely if he was on our side of the pitch because he’s a very effective player in this league and at this level.

“But it’s going to be a challenge because he’s the type of player they’ve got and more. They’ve got five, six, seven top strikers who can play for them at any given chance.”

But while the attention may be on Oates’ return heading into the game, Lee insists he just wants his side to be able to enjoy the rest of the season.

Pools have all but secured their League Two status this season and Lee wants his players to continue to give supporters something to cheer about for the remaining eight games of the season.

“Tuesday night I’ll look at Mansfield and what we’re going to do. I already had something in my head with what I wanted to do,” said Lee.

“We’re at home and we want to be exciting. The fans have been fantastic all year for us so we don't want to go there and put a lacklustre performance in.

“We want to be going out with energy and tempo and enjoying the game.

Lee added: “I just want to enjoy the rest of the season, I think we all do.

“But to enjoy it, I want to be watching us playing with energy and fighting and scrapping and moving the ball well. From now until the end of the season that’s what I want us to have.

“We want to enjoy being in the league. The points tally we’re on is fantastic but let’s go and kick on, and enjoy the end of the season.”

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