Middlesbrough may not be bringing any household names to Hartlepool United, but they will be fielding some gifted footballers.
With the Sky Bet Championship favourites in action tomorrow against German outfit, Augsburg, at the Riverside, Boro U23 might be exactly what it says ‘on the tin’,
However, there could be one or two familiar names in a squad which will be managed by someone who needs no introduction at Victoria Park, ex-Pools defender Graeme Lee.
Keeper Aynsley Pears is the son of former Boro stopper and Pools assistant boss, Stephen.
Other good youngsters set to feature include Luxembourg central defender, Enes Mahmutovic, who boasts five international caps, striker Lewis Wing, signed from Shildon in the summer, and Luke Armstrong, son of ex-Boro forward Alun, who was signed from Blyth in the summer.
Centre-half, Tom Brewitt, signed recently after being released from Liverpool’s Academy after nine years with the club will also feature, as will George Miller, a striker signed from Bury.
Boro boss Garry Monk has used some of the club’s young talent thus far in the senior games. With Boro facing Augsburg, several likely starters against Pools could instead be used against the Bundesliga team.
Hartlepool-born forward Harry Chapman, a gold medallist with England at the World U20 Cup may get a run-out at the Riverside.
So too might Finland right winger, Mikael Soisalo, left-winger Marcus Tavernier, another Academy product, and Adlene Guedioura, an Algerian international signed from Watford on transfer deadline day in January.
Chapman will be hoping to make a first-team breakthrough on the back of being a member of the squad which won the World Cup, following a successful loan spell at Sheffield United last season.
But, if that group are NOT involved with the first team squad the day after, they will doubtless face Pools.
Thus far, Boro U23 have lost at Bishop Auckland, won at Shildon with a stronger team, but with a weaker XI they were beaten at Blyth 4-2 last Saturday.