MATTHEW Bates is a major doubt for the visit of Northampton Town tomorrow night after suffering a dead leg in the defeat at Portsmouth, wites RICHARD MENNEAR.
But Pools boss Ronnie Moore has a ready made replacement for the holding midfield role in Nicky Featherstone.
Bates was taken off just 13 minutes in at Fratton Park, with 26-year-old Featherstone given an early run out from the bench.
And the midfielder impressed, keeping a tight rein on Pompey dangerman Jed Wallace.
Featherstone hadn’t played since the 1-0 defeat at Wycombe Wanderers at the start of January but Moore has been impressed with him in training and on deadline day extended his contract until the end of the season.
Moore said: “Matthew has a dead leg, which hindered us but Nicky came on and did really well.
“I was impressed with him.
“He got on the ball and was trying to find little pockets of space.
“Nicky took his chance – without a doubt.
“He was one of the brighter sparks, got on the ball and passed it.
“He marked [Jed] Wallace, who can cause teams no end of problems.
“Nicky hasn’t had a game for a while but came on and did well.”
Featherstone was signed by former boss Paul Murray, initially on a short term contract, which Moore has since extended twice and the midfielder will stay until the end of the campaign.
Bates had impressed in recent weeks in the holding role and Moore admits he is unlikely to be playing at Victoria Park tomorrow night (KO 7.45pm).
The former Middlesbrough defender will be assessed further at Maiden Castle, in Durham, today.
Moore also revealed afterwards that on-loan Reading midfielder Aaron Tshibola had also played despite a tight groin in the build-up to the match.
He praised his determination to play but admits he wasn’t as effective as he usually is.
Moore added: “Tshibola played but his groin was really tight.
“We want players who are determined to play but you could tell he wasn’t as good as he has been.
“We have to wait on him and Batesy.
“We won’t know until today but tomorrow’s game will probably come too soon for Batesy.”