Matthew Bates has refused to rule out retaining every player in his Hartlepool United squad this season.
Following the signing of Luke Williams, who is expected to be in the squad for tomorrow’s clash with Eastleigh, it was widely expected that Pools would open the door to departures.
Even with the likes of senior pros Jake Cassidy and Louis Laing not getting a look in, and Andrew Davies and Williams close to a return, Bates does not necessarily think he has the size of squad to allow players to leave.
“The squad isn’t that big when you look at it,” he said ahead of Pools’ 11th game of the National League campaign.
“At the moment when we have a couple of injuries we only have two or three players not involved in the squad.
“On paper when you look at Luke and Andrew coming back you could say we have a big squad, but who knows? We could have more injuries by then, as is the way with football.
“We look at the squad on a week by week basis, a player by player basis.
“Me and Craig (Hignett) will have a conversation if needs be.
“The lads who are not in the team are champing at the bit.
“There is no one moaning and no one saying they want to go out on loan.”
Bates is expecting a tough test tomorrow afternoon, despite the opposition’s lowly status.
The Spitfires come to the Super 6 Stadium sitting in 19th spot in the table, having lost six of their opening 10 encounters in the fifth tier.
While the manager knows his side have the quality to dismantle any side at this level, he is not expecting an easy afternoon.
“They have been hit and miss this season,” he said of Richard Hill’s side.
“They probably haven’t got the results their performances have deserved.
“I watched them against Fylde and they were very good. They will be coming off the back of the that with some confidence and with a clean sheet.
“They haven’t scored goals of late but I am sure they will be working on that.
“It is another tough game. If we are on song, we beat anyone at this level. That is all I am really concerned about.
“Last year because we had a weaker, smaller squad we worked a lot on how we could counteract the opposition. This year that’s different.”
Reflecting back on his own side’s start to their second season at this level, Bates can see nothing but positives.
“I am pleased with how things have started. We are 10 games in with one defeat, so I am happy,” he said.
“It is a good start but things come thick and fast in football - we have no time to sit back, enjoy and relax.
“It’s on to the next game and the next points, which will hopefully come this weekend against Eastleigh.”