Hartlepool Utd boss to make changes for Tranmere Rovers

Antony Sweeney in action against Brentford. Picture by FRANK REID
Antony Sweeney in action against Brentford. Picture by FRANK REID

MICKY Barron will not wield the axe in the Hartlepool United dressing room.

But the caretaker boss has admitted changes are inevitable for tonight’s League One clash with Tranmere.

Pools were a complete shambles defensively at Chesterfield on Saturday, losing 6-1 to the League Two side in an FA Cup first round humiliation.

“I’ll have to make changes, especially in the defensive areas,” said Barron.

“I can’t play players who I didn’t think performed very well on Saturday.

“I can’t make wholesale changes across the back four but I will certainly be making changes with the personnel.”

Several high-profile players, as mentioned in last night’s SportMail, are in danger of losing their places.

Sam Collins is likely to start in place of Jack Baldwin, the gifted youngster having suffered a bit of a shocker in central defence on Saturday.

Collins will reprise his partnership with Peter Hartley, while Darren Holden could return at left-back for Evan Horwood, who also looked out of sorts against the Spireites.

Given Baldwin has been one of the bright spots in a gloomy season, the teenager could move forward into midfield and partner Paul Murray, allowing Antony Sweeney to push on and provide the goal threat in support of lone front man Steve Howard.

With Ryan Noble having returned to Sunderland, Barron is set to start with Jonathan Franks and James Poole in the wide roles, though Nathan Luscombe could feature on the left.

Whover Barron sends out, the 37-year-old will be looking for a major effort from his troops after Saturday’s debacle.

“Players shouldn’t make those mistakes whoever is in charge,” he said.

“Whether Fabio Capello was in charge, players are making errors which professional footballers shouldn’t make.

“It’s down to the players to get the club out of the situation we are in.”

And Barron stressed that the players owed the long-suffering supporters a display they could be proud of.

The fans turned on Pools for the first time at the Proact Stadium, something the caretaker could understand.

“It’s nice to play at home tonight but it is going to be tough for the players,” Barron stated.

“They have got a lot to prove to the fans.

“They have got to be brave, they have got to get on the ball and show real character.

“They owe the fans a lot – they have let them down too many times.

“They have also let people in the club down, I went in to apologise to the office staff on Monday.

“While it’s not just the supporters they have let down it’s the fans they have to go out and show that they really care about this club and they are determined to get out of this predicament we are in.”

So will Barron not have to give them a pep talk this evening?

“The players should be able to motivate themselves,” he said.

“But I will definitely be giving them a team talk.

“But it’s all about the players – whoever I pick tonight needs to go out and perform and give something back to the fans.”

Pools (possible): Flinders, Austin, Collins, Hartley, Holden, Franks, Murray, Baldwin, Sweeney, Poole, Howard.

Subs: McHugh, Horwood, Richards, Walton, Humphreys, Luscombe, Wyke