Fitness boost for Hartlepool United FA Cup tie at South Shields

Carl Magnay.
Carl Magnay.

Hartlepool United hope Carl Magnay will win his fitness battle for tomorrow’s FA Cup showdown at South Shields.

Magnay played through the pain of a stomach strain in the 2-1 win at Solihull Moors last week.

Luke and Ledge have trained this week and are available for selection

CRAIG HARRISON

Boss Craig Harrison said his skipper was around “75% fit” but was desperate to play and keep the team’s good run going .

The 28-year-old was sent for a scan this week and it looks promising that he will be fit to lead the side out at Mariners Park (kick-off 3pm).

Magnay trained yesterday and, providing there was no reaction today, he should start against the Evo Stik North leaders.

Harrison faced the possibility of being minus both full-backs after Nicky Deverdics (toe) played with some discomfort at Damson Park.

“Devs is fine – there is no problem,” said Harrison. “Mags has had a scan and while we are waiting on results, I understand they are clear.”

Harrison has been boosted by the return of three players – Luke George, Michael Ledger and Liam Donnelly.

George, who has yet to play a competitive game since joining the club from Chester in the summer, and Ledger, on a season-long loan from Sunderland, have trained all week.

Donnelly returned to the Racecourse in Durham yesterday after a successful date in midweek when he led Northern Ireland U21s to the top of their Euro Championship qualifying group with a come-from-behind 4-2 victory over Estonia in Lurgan.

“Luke and Ledge have trained this week and are available for selection,” said Harrison. “We have Liam back from international duty unscathed, which is great news, and full of confidence after another great result for Northern Ireland.”

“We haven’t had those three for the last week or so, so that’s great.”

While the overall news on the fitness front was good, there was a minor setback for Ryan Donaldson.

The forward, who damaged ankle ligaments last week against Barrow was due to have surgery yesterday, joining defender Keith Watson (knee) and striker Jake Cassidy (foot) on the long-term casualty list.

“Ryan unfortunately had his operation postponed,” he said. “It’s been changed to today.

“It’s a pain in the backside for Ryan, but it is what it is – an extra couple of days is not going to make any difference.

“It’s going to be eight to 12 weeks out for him. It’s tough for Ryan. What happened was very innocuous, he just land awkwardly.

“We’ve been unlucky with him, Jake and Keith.”