HARTLEPOOL United boss Colin Cooper has been desperate to “bolster” his wafer-thin squad – and he has been able to address that by bringing in striker Charlie Wyke on loan.
On a week when Pools extended their goalless sequence to 270 minutes, the arrival of a forward is a welocome addition.
Wyke has joined from Middlesbrough on a month’s loan and will come straight into the squad for tomorrow’s League Two trip to Wimbledon.
Ironically, Wyke spent three months on loan with the Wombles last season when he netted twice in 17 appearances, so Cooper will hope he can make an impact at Kingsmeadow tomorrow.
The 21-year-old will be familiar to Pools fans after spending much of the 2012-13 campaign on loan at the Vic from Boro.
Wyke made 26 appearances for John Hughes’s team, scoring twice, before a hip injury curtailed his stay at the Vic.
In truth, the return of the Middlesbrough-born forward is unlikely to set pulses raising among fans who are braced to lose star striker Luke James.
But Cooper is trying to raise numbers rather than pulses and he is pleased to have new blood in a squad who have only scored twice in four matches this season.
“We’re pretty thin on numbers and I’m trying to bolster our squad,” said the Pools boss.
“I’m trying to get people through the door in in order to add some cover, competition and to raise the bar, improve the quality in any way shape or form I can.”
Wyke, who trained with the squad today and will have the number 24 shirt, is likely to start on the bench tomorrow.
Cooper and assistant Stephen Pears have some tricky choices to make in selection when they come to sit down to choose the team.
The Pools boss is hoping Tommy Miller overcomes a back problem to return in the heart of the midfield.
The 35-year-old would probably replace Stuart Parnaby who limped off on Tuesday night with hamstring trouble.
“Tommy was sore on Saturday and that was still the case on Tuesday,” said Cooper.
“Wednesday was a manipulation day with [physio] Ian Gallagher and more yesterday.
“We’ll take a look at it today and decide if he’s OK to travel. He wants to play.
“But wanting to play is different to what the body says.
“You can’t test it really until it’s tested in a game.
“We will train at the Vic this morning before we go to London and see where we are.”
Jack Compton looked lively on Tuesday night as a second-half sub and could have played himself into a return to the starting XI.
Cooper will continue with James up front after the teenager handed in his second transfer request this week.
The manager was reluctant to discuss the James transfer situation at his pre-match media conference yesterday though he said the 19-year-old “had done himself credit” with his performance against Dagenham & Redbridge.
Cooper may well restore Marlon Harewood alongside him so Jonathan Franks could feature in a ‘flat’ midfield quartet alongside Miller, Brad Walker and Ryan Brobbel.
At the back, Cooper will look for solidity which could involve the return of Sam Collins at centre-half alongside skipper Matthew Bates with Neil Austin switching to left-back.
Collins could prove the ideal candidate to deal with the imposing Wombles striker Ade Akinfenwa.
Lewis Hawkins, a second-half sub on Tuesday night, injured his ankle in a reserve-team friendly with Gateshead on Wednesday and is a doubt for tomorrow.
So too is on-loan keeper Joel Dixon who got a knock in the stomach in the same game and his fitness is being assessed by Sunderland.
Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley looks set to name his same XI for the fourth match in a row.
Wimbledon (probable): Shea, Fuller, Kennedy, Moore, Bennett, Barrett, Francomb, Bulman, Akinfenwa, Tubbs, Rigg. Subs: Worner, Pell, Azeez, Phillips, Sainte-Luce, Nicholson, Beere
Pools (probable): Flinders, Duckworth, Bates, Collins, Austin, Franks, Walker, Miller, Brobbel, James Harewood. Subs (from): Dixon, Richards, Holden, Woods, Hawkins, Compton, Wyke, Smith