Hartlepool United take part in behind-closed-doors friendly at Sunderland - but it comes too soon for midfielder Luke Williams

Luke Williams' Hartlepool United return remains on ice with the midfielder not fit enough to take part in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Sunderland.

Wednesday, 20th March 2019, 11:52 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th March 2019, 11:58 am
Sunderland's Academy of Light.
Sunderland's Academy of Light.

The Black Cats invited a Pools select XI, without the likes of David Edgar, Luke James and Danny Amos and made up of a mix of youth and experience, to the Academy of Light on Tuesday.

The Mail has learned Williams did not make the trip to South Tyneside, though, despite a reported end-of-season return date pencilled in.

On the match, Sunderland manager and former Pools defender Jack Ross, said: "It’s a bit of a fractured week with some players on international duty. We’ll have a bounce game which will allow some players to maintain match fitness for the games coming up.

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"We’ll have a few days off as well to allow them to recharge for the games coming up after the cup final. It’s a bit different for us in terms of the whole structure of the week but it’s designed in a way that will hopefully help the players physically and mentally to enjoy the leas-up to the cup final, hopefully win the cup final and then the period after that."

Williams has been out all season, having required two operations to fix a knee injury.

He signed on a free transfer from League One Scunthorpe United last August.

Meanwhile, Hartlepool boss Craig Hignett admits he's delighted with the team spirit developing at Pools.

“We wanted to stop the slide after what’s gone on and make it more exciting for people," he said.

"The team spirit now is fantastic, all in it and all having a laugh and a joke at the right times.

"I’ve got to take my hat off to them because they know when the time is to dig in and they did that when they had to (at Barnet)."