COLIN Cooper faces a tough selection dilemma for Hartlepool United’s New Year’s Day battle with Bury.
Pools play host to the Shakers tomorrow on the back of a dramatic but deserved 2-1 win at Morecambe on Sunday (kick-off 3pm).
Cooper must ponder whether to keep a winning side or return first-team regular Andy Monkhouse to the starting line-up after he served his one-match suspension against Morecambe, following his red card against Chesterfield on Boxing Day.
His place was taken by Nialle Rodney and Cooper says the 22-year-old did himself no harm with his display.
The boss says he will select the “best team” in a bid to reverse what Bury did to Pools at the end of November.
The 46-year-old said: “I had a long chat with Andy [Monkhouse] and I said, while I think he has been very good for us this season, I have to say when things like that happen, you open the door for somebody.
“Nialle has done himself no harm against Morecambe.
“It was his first start and some of the bits that he did you could see he was a bit rusty but Nialle has got a lot of potential and that potential will come over time, when he has more minutes on the pitch.
“But it has been difficult to give him that time with the form of Luke James, Andy, James Poole and Jonathan Franks.
“Nialle has had to be patient but has taken his opportunity and me and Craig [Hignett] will have a ponder to see what we think is the best team to go and try to reverse what Bury did to us down at their place.”
Meanwhile, Cooper is expecting to be able to name on-loan Middlesbrough defender Christian Burgess in
l TURN to Page 38
the starting line-up.
As reported last week, Pools have reached an agreement with neighbours Boro to extend the loan deals of Burgess and midfielder Matty Dolan until the end of the season with the League Two side just waiting on the paperwork to be cleared.
If the deal isn’t confirmed then Burgess won’t be able to play but Dolan will as the Bury game is the last game of his current loan deal.
Cooper though is confident Burgess will be able to line-up in the heart of Pools’ defence tomorrow.
The former Middlesbrough defender said: “As far as we are concerned we have done all we can.
“We are just waiting for confirmation from Middlesbrough but there is nothing to suggest he can’t.
“We have until today to make sure it is boxed off and we are just waiting for word from Middlesbrough to confirm that what we agreed we get on paper, signed and sealed before tomorrow.”
Winger Jack Compton remains on the sidelines, for a couple of weeks at least, after suffering a tear to his right calf, while Jordan Richards is still out after surgery on a double hernia.