Hartlepool United have key characters back for two massive cup finals

Hartlepool United club captain Billy Paynter
Hartlepool United club captain Billy Paynter

Nicky Featherstone believes the presence of Billy Paynter and Trevor Carson in the Hartlepool United squad will provide a positive impetus for the final two weeks.

Featherstone has been leading Pools in the absence of Paynter after the club captain was ruled out at the turn of the year with long-standing Achilles trouble.

It’s up to everyone to step up – we have two games left, two massive cup finals, everyone has to play their part

NICKY FEATHERSTONE

The striker eventually conceded defeat to the injury, having surgery on his left leg.

However, the 32-year-old has been forced to keep away from the camp after recovering from the op for fear of contracting an infection.

But Paynter is back and back as part of the interim management team, assisting stand-in boss, Matthew Bates, for the matches against Cheltenham and Doncaster.

“Billy is a massive character to have around,” said Featherstone.

“He’s been in these situations before.”

While Paynter has played just three times this year, Carson has yet to feature at all in 2017 following shoulder surgery.

Boss Dave Jones recalled him to the squad for Saturday’s match with Barnet, the 29-year-old sitting on the bench with on-loan Joe Fryer between the sticks.

And Featherstone says having a strong figure like Carson around the squad will be a lift – even if he does not play.

“We’ve got Trev back in the squad and that can only help us,” said the midfielder.

“It’s not just up to Trev, me, Billy, Batesy.

“It’s up to everyone to step up – we have two games left, two massive cup finals, everyone has to play their part.”

Pools are desperate to recover from Saturday’s woeful defeat, adding: “I didn’t see that performance coming at all.”