CAMBRIDGE United will have a couple of familiar faces in their starting line-up tomorrow – former Pools players Michael Nelson and Ryan Donaldson.
Pools caretaker boss Sam Collins has praised the “aggressive and brave” Nelson ahead of tomorrow’s match, the pair played together at Bury and Pools before Nelson left for Norwich City.
Nelson, 34, signed for the U’s this summer after agreeing the mutual termination of his contract at Scottish side Hibernian, while striker Donaldson spent time on loan at Pools from Newcastle United.
Collins said winning football matches isn’t always about tactics or formations, he said winning individual battles is most important – something Nelson does more often than not.
“It isn’t about tactics or formations, it is about me against you and I am going to get the better of you,” said Collins.
“You have to go in thinking if there is a header, I’m going to win it, if there is a 50-50 tackle I’m winning it, if there is a 60-40 I’m going to put my head in and prepare to get hurt.
“League Two, this is what teams do.
“Nelse is that breed of player, someone who will do that no questions asked, if that ball is there they are going for it.
“If I can get a team of 11 players willing to do that then I will take that all day long.
“I played with Nelse at Bury, when he was a young kid coming through, and played with him here for a year or so.
“He is a great lad, never moans, gets on with things and works hard.
“He is aggressive and brave – I would have a few of that type.”
The Gateshead-born centre-half spent the early part of his career at non-league level prior to signing for Bury in 2001.
Pools forked out £70,000 for him in 2003 and he went on to make 250 appearances for Pools over six seasons before signing for Norwich City, Scunthorpe United, Kilmarnock and Bradford City.
Former Coventry and Huddersfield striker Robbie Simpson, who has been doing well in a deeper midfield role, could return for the U’s after missing Tuesday’s 2-1 home defeat to Cheltenham with a thigh injury.
Long-term absentees include defender Ian Miller and midfielder Issa Diallo.
Captain Miller hasn’t played since being stretchered off in the Conference Premier play-off final against Gateshead at Wembley in May.
Cambridge: Dunn, Tait, Nelson, Coulson, Taylor, Hughes, Champion, Naylor, Donaldson, Elliott, Appiah
Subs: Dunk, Lanzoni, Norris, Chadwick, Hurst, Bird, Simpson.