Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett yet to decide on Duckworth or Carroll for battle with York City

Michael Duckworth
Michael Duckworth

Michael Duckworth must wait and see if he will make back-to-back Hartlepool United appearances for the first time since December.

The 23-year-old made his comeback in midweek at Notts County following a frustrating four-month period on the sidelines.

I’d be happy to play Ducky again, I thought he did well in the game the other night

Craig Hignett

Originally expected to be missing for a few weeks with a stomach-muscle strain, his injury absence grew and he went on to have surgery on a hernia.

But the defender returned on Tuesday when he deputised for the in-form Jake Carroll who was rested after taking a bang to the head late in the 5-2 victory at Morecambe.

Pools boss Craig Hignett has yet to decide on the left back spot for today’s northern battle with York City.

Carroll would be favourite to resume but Hignett would have no qualms about using him again.

There was an element of disappointment at the goal Pools conceded at Meadow Lane, which originated on the side patrolled by Duckworth and Rhys Oates.

But Hignett says Duckworth will soon be acclimatised to the new shape Pools operate under him and first-team coach Curtis Fleming.

“I’d be happy to play Ducky again, I thought he did well in the game the other night,” he said.

“I’ve looked at the goal and there are bits and bobs we should have done differently.

“But he’s not been training with us for that long, so the way we are trying to play is new to him.

“It’s up to me to get the message over to him about what we do and where we do it.

“It cost us a goal the other night, it’s not just him, down that side in general, that wasn’t how we normally defend.

“But in terms of football ability and the player he is, he’s an asset to this club.”

Meanwhile, on the subject of club assets, teenage winger Jack Blackford has been offered a first professional contract.

The 17-year-old has had an excellent season with Pools ’ Youth Team campaign and flourished under head of youth, John Hewitson.

Blackford has gained the interest of both Manchester City and Aston Villa in recent months but Pools are looking to keep the youngster at the Vic.

Given the way Hignett encourages young talent at Pools, the club will be keen to develop the town talent, who travelled with the first-team squad to Notts County for the experience of match-day.

Pools have also exercised third-year extensions for fellow Youth Team stars Aaron Cunningham, Dylan Elliott, Jordan Jewson, Nat Skidmore and Jack Turnbull.