Hartlepool United receive injury green light as midfielder provides considerable fitness update

Callum Cooke has declared himself fit to return for Hartlepool United after picking up an ankle ligament injury in September.
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Hartlepool could be set for a welcome boost in midfield after former Bradford City man Cooke made his return to full training ahead of Pools’ National League fixture with Ebbsfleet United.

Cooke has been missing since the defeat to Oxford City back in early September – a game in which he scored his second goal of the season – after suffering ankle ligament damage in training just days later.

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The midfielder turned his ankle innocuously with initial fears being that the 26-year-old would be out until the New Year.

Hartlepool United midfielder Callum Cooke has given a positive update on his fitness. Picture by FRANK REIDHartlepool United midfielder Callum Cooke has given a positive update on his fitness. Picture by FRANK REID
Hartlepool United midfielder Callum Cooke has given a positive update on his fitness. Picture by FRANK REID

But after receiving a second opinion Hartlepool, and boss John Askey, were handed some positive news with Cooke in that he could return sooner than expected.

Since then, much like last season when suffering an ankle injury, Cooke has worked hard to get ahead of schedule with Pools’ form dropping off in the National League.

And after the news of Anthony Mancini's return to the North East as the Frenchman continues his recovery from a hamstring injury, the news of Cooke’s imminent return will be seen as a further boost for Askey who will be desperate for his side to return to winning ways when they resume their National League campaign against Ebbsfleet.

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"It’s my first week back in full training, I’m well ahead of schedule,” said Cooke.

Callum Cooke has been out of action for Hartlepool United since September's defeat to Oxford City.Callum Cooke has been out of action for Hartlepool United since September's defeat to Oxford City.
Callum Cooke has been out of action for Hartlepool United since September's defeat to Oxford City.

"I’ve got to be careful, but it’s good to get amongst the boys and physically I feel in good condition. It’s obviously going to take me a couple of weeks to get my match sharpness back, but just to be around the boys and back in full training is a bonus and fingers crossed I can be involved in the match day squad and build my minutes up.

“Initially it was going to be after Christmas and into the New Year because we didn’t know whether I needed surgery or not,” Cooke added.

"But we had a second opinion and the consultant just said to crack on as you are and I’ve got to give credit to the physios who have put their trust in me. They’ve probably fast-tracked me which, from my point of view, I’m absolutely delighted with. But everything I’ve been asked to do I’ve done.

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"I’m buzzing it wasn’t worse than what it was, even though it was a bad one still. It’s been a tough 10 weeks, but considering what we thought it was going to be at the start when I first got injured it’s positive news to get me back well ahead of schedule.

“From my point of view I want to play and be involved from the get-go. We’ll just have to build it up and who knows? Maybe I’ll be back in the squad on Saturday and fingers crossed I’ll get some minutes, but that’s for the gaffer to decide.

"It’s probably just a case of managing me at the minute but as far as I’m aware I’m fully ready and I’m declaring myself fit and hopefully I’ll be back involved.”