Hartlepool United will be without influential Liam Donnelly once again as they aim for a final push to National League safety.
The Northern Ireland Under 21 defender continues to battle with a calf injury as Pools visit high-flying Sutton United looking for three points that will ease any relegation worries.
Pools caretaker boss Matthew Bates has revealed that the classy centre-half may need a scan on his injury and, with only two weeks of the season remaining, it is possible he may not play for Pools again this campaign.
Bates said: “Liam Donnelly is a frustrating one, he’s still struggling and will probably need a scan.
“It won’t settle down and he’s as frustrated as anyone.
“We have missed him, he’s a massive player for us, but we have won games without him.”
“We are still short on numbers, bare bones and we hope to have Aaron Cunningham back in the squad, he’s worked hard.”
Pools have missed Donnelly of late, first because of international duty with Northern Ireland under-21s and then he returned with the injury which has kept him on the sidelines.
Young defender Cunningham is making progress after a long spell out with ankle trouble and could be in the squad in time for tomorrow’s fixture.
Bates is putting injury concerns aside to urge his players for one last big push in their bid for safety.
He said: “We need one big, last effort and since I’ve been here it’s hard to fault the lads – the last two home games weren’t great, especially Solihull – but we have enough about us to get those wins we need.
“We need those wins and points as soon as possible.
“We know the situation and facing a team up there challenging for promotion, but we need points on the board and it’s important we get them.”
The caretaker boss is bullish about the task in hand at third-placed Sutton and has pointed to Pools’ away form and the fact their hosts have lost their last three games.
He said: “It’s disappointing the last two home games really, two winnable games and we couldn’t get over the line – two disappointing ends to the games too for everyone, players, staff and all involved.
“But it’s gone now, in the past and we have to look forward. We need to carry on our recent good away form.
“Our home form has been poor all season, for many reasons. It’s been a poor season at home and we have two home games left and we have four games left to make up for those two defeats – starting on Saturday.
“We aren’t daunted by the task, results in this league vary week by week, we have won three in a row and then lost to two teams below us – it’s how our season has gone really.
Scott Harrison is still regaining fitness after a hamstring injury and Luke George remains sidelined.