Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett handed fitness boost for Luton Town clash

Nathan Thomas
Nathan Thomas

Winger Nathan Thomas is expected to be fit for the visit of Luton Town tonight.

Having scored the opener, the 21-year-old was taken off in the 78th minute of last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Plymouth Argyle.

And despite suffering cuts to his shins, Thomas, who has netted four in his last four for Pools, is expected to line up on the left hand side of Craig Hignett’s starting XI when the Hatters come to town.

“Nathan was cut to bits on his shins,” said Hignett, giving a fitness update for his squad.

“But he is OK. Other than that we just have a few tired legs.”

The manager is still waiting to see whether central defensive duo Matthew Bates and Rob Jones will be fit enough to take their place in the matchday squad at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium.

Jones is understood to be the closer of the pair to a return, after a hip problem, suffered in the 2-1 win at Yeovil, has seen him miss the last two.

Hignett talked of giving the towering centre-back “a few more days” to recover last week, hence why he did not travel with the rest of the squad to Home Park.

But his hand may be forced this evening due to Scott Harrison’s red card on Saturday seeing him serve a one game suspension tonight.

Of the club’s senior central defenders just Toto Nsiala is fit and available for Hignett at the Vic.

Least likely of the duo to be back in action is Bates.

The former Middlesbrough man is also thought to be closing in on a return, but bone bruising on his foot is taking longer than initially anticipated to heal.

Both Jones and Bates are rated as doubtful.

Should neither make the clash, it’s expected Hignett will again move versatile Liam Donnelly around to cover his third position in just three games.

Having come into the team at left-back against Mansfield, an injury to Carl Magnay saw Donnelly shuffle across to the right. It was there where the youngster started impressed in the Plymouth draw.

But tonight it’s expected he will slot in to the heart of the Pools backline, with Jordan Richards, who came off the bench at the weekend, coming in at right-back.