Ex-Middlesbrough star Matthew Bates key to Hartlepool United defence as Magnus Okuonghae goes back to Luton

Matthew Bates
Matthew Bates

Magnus Okuonghae is still a defender who interests Ronnie Moore.

But the Hartlepool United boss says, at the moment, a revitalised Matthew Bates is proving his main man.

A lot will depend on Batesy, he has a new lease of life at the moment which is good.


Okuonghae’s loan month ended in frustration when he returned early to Luton Town with a foot problem.

Moore hoped to have the giant 29-year-old available for yesterday’s TV clash with Leyton Orient, only for Okuonghae to break down in training at Maiden Castle.

The Pools chief said last week in SportMail that he would have talks with Hatters boss John Still about keeping him.

While he admitted he’s still keen on the Londoner, he’s happy with the Adam Jackson-Bates combination.

“He was injured, that’s why he went back,” said Moore. “We’ve got to wait and see how that goes.

“His metatarsal is really sore – he’s had an x-ray and there’s no break but he tried to train on Friday and he had to pull up after five minutes.

“He’s gone back to Luton.

“A lot will depend on Batesy, he has a new lease of life at the moment which is good.

“He’s the old head in there, if you like, someone who can talk to Jacko and Scotty [Harrison].

“We’ll monitor that and see what happens.”

Harrison came on for the last quarter of an hour or so to play right-back after Michael Duckworth was stretchered off.

And the former Sunderland defender did his bit in unfamiliar territory.

It looked a bad injury for Duckworth but Moore says the initial prognosis is good for the Yorkshireman.

In fact, Moore and chief pysio, Ian Gallagher, hopes he’ll be fit for Saturday’s trip to Mansfield Town.

“We thought it was his ankle,” said Moore. “Buster got on and it’s his calf.

“It has cramped up and it was like a tennis ball.

“Buster says it’s the worst case of cramp he’s seen, but he thinks he’s going to be OK.

“But Scotty can play there, he gives you height and strength in there, so there’s food for thought.”