Cheltenham Town-Hartlepool United: Trevor Carson in line for Pools return

Matthew Bates: Interim boss
Matthew Bates: Interim boss

Matthew Bates admits he has a dilemma whether he throws the goalkeeping gloves to Trevor Carson for Saturday's must-win game at Cheltenham.

The 29-year-old has not featured in 2017, with Joe Fryer doing a good job between the sticks after former boss Dave Jones replaced Carson's understudy, Adam Bartlett, with the on-loan Middlesbrough stopper.

Fryer has saved Pools from heavier defeats against Leyton Orient and Barnet, but Bates explains there is a selection poser for the trip to Whaddon Road.

"It certainly is," he said. "Trev is champing at the bit, as he always is, and we've had to hold him back a bit.

"He wants to do extra and we've been conscious of the operation he's had.

"He's an option and certainly one we are thinking about.

"We'll see, it's still only Thursday, we'll look at it tomorrow and Saturday.

"We are thinking about it, but we don't know yet, we'll see how it goes."

It would represent a huge game for the ex-Sunderland keeper, who left Cheltenham in 2015 to sign for Pools.

Carson trained today at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium where Pools have been going through their paces to prepare for the game against the Robins who are twom places and four points above them in the League Two table.

And Bates, the front man in the interim management team with Billy Paynter, Stuart Parnaby and Ian Gallagher, has been delighted with the response of the players.

"We saw a reaction from them straight away and it's carried on," said the 30-year-old.

"We've had another good session today.

"We've planned our sessions on how we are going to play on Saturday and it's worked well, the players have responded.

"The lads have asked questions on what we are doing and that's good, we want an inquisitive dressing room.

"The players will know the jobs they have to do."

Saturday's game will come too soon for Kenton Richardson, who is recovering from an ankle injury, though he has a chance of playing against Doncaster next week.

Liam Donnelly, sent off at Leyton Orient and suspended for this weekend's game has also returned to training as Bates reported."

He added: "Liam has been struggling with an injury, we know he's suspended for Saturday, but he's come back a probably a couple of days early to help the boys out in training.

"I can't fault him.

"This game is too soon for Kenton but possibly he could be fit for next weekend."i