Hartlepool United boss Matthew Bates wary of FA Cup banana skin but is considering making changes

Matthew Bates is targeting a run of home wins.
Matthew Bates is targeting a run of home wins.

Matthew Bates is considering shuffling his Hartlepool United pack but is wary of falling foul of the proverbial FA Cup banana skin.

Evo-Stik West side Kidsgrove Athletic, in the eighth tier of English football, are the visitors to the Super 6 Stadium tomorrow in the fourth qualifying round of the competition.

And Bates is keen for Pools not to make the same mistake they did back in 2014, when he was a player, and Blyth Spartans caused an upset at the Vic.

But that fear has not stopped him considering resting a few of his senior players and giving those who have had little gametime some minutes out on the pitch.

“I will be picking a side that I think will be capable of winning the game,” said Bates.

“It [making changes] is something I have considered doing but that is as much as I want to say on the matter. I do not like saying too much about selections in the press because I never want to give the opposition manager too much ahead of the game.

“You will have to wait and see what the team is.”

Often clubs choose to prioritise the bread and butter of the league ahead of runs in the cup competitions.

Bates, though, cannot wait for his side to get started in a cup he holds in high regard.

“I want the players to enjoy everything we do - the FA Cup is no different,” said Bates, set to make his managerial debut in the competition.

“We have put the league to bed for a week, this is a different competition and we need to concentrate on Kidsgrove.

“As a player I have been involved in upsets and it’s not good. I want to make sure the players do not experience anything like that this season.

“For that reason we do not take Kidsgrove lightly. They are a good side. They have made it to this stage on merit and will be treated with the respect they deserve.

“Overall, though, I am really looking forward to the game.”

This week Pools allowed Louis Laing to depart having come to an agreement to end his deal, which was set to run until the end of the current campaign.

That defensive departure has freed up some wriggle room in the transfer budget for Bates, with a striker at the very top of his shopping list.

But, as things stand, Bates says nothing is imminent on the transfer front.

“As boring as it sounds we are still in discussions and we are looking at players - nothing has really changed in the last week,” said the manager.

“If you ask any manager in the country they will all tell you they are looking to strengthen, even Man City who are sitting at the top of the pile.”