Hartlepool Utd star a doubt for trip to Wycombe

Gary Liddle works hard to get close to the ball. Hartlepool United V Bournemouth League1 Picture By Frank Reid
Gary Liddle works hard to get close to the ball. Hartlepool United V Bournemouth League1 Picture By Frank Reid

GARY Liddle remains a doubt for tomorrow’s trip to Wycombe Wanderers – but manager Neale Cooper is relieved his midfielder even has a chance of making the game.

The Scot feared the 25-year-old had suffered a serious injury when Notts County’s Neale Bishop crashed into his lower leg during last weekend’s 3-0 victory over the Magpies.

The challenge forced Liddle to retire from the action and he was sent for an x-ray on Monday.

That, though, revealed no break and the former Middlesbrough trainee is rated as 50-50 for the game at Adams Park.

But Cooper is just thankful his engine-room ace has escaped a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

“When the actual challenge happened it was scary, the way he came in on the side of him,” said the first-team coach.

“It was a nasty knock but Gary can take that thankfully, he’s a hardy boy, and it looks like it’s not as bad as we first thought, but his calf area is still store.

“He’s touch and go for tomorrow, though, and if he’s still in pain it will be his decision, there’s no point putting him back.

“That would be a miss because he’s been excellent for us.”

If Liddle does come up short in his fitness race then Steve Haslam is likely to deputise.

He was the replacement for his stricken team-mate last weekend and has found himself back in the first-team frame under Cooper.

And the boss said: “Steve Haslam came in at Sheff Wed last month and did very well.

“He’s never let us down. He came on last weekend and again did well, he’s such a tidy footballer.

“He sees passes and defends well, the challenge would be can he give us a little more going forward?”

Cooper could still name an unchanged starting XI for the fifth game in a row should Liddle shake off his problem.

And the manager has no problem with sending the same boys into battle week on week.

“I’ve said to them ‘it’s up to you to stay in team’, I’ve no problem with keeping it the same as long as they’re doing well,” he went on.

“But the other boys have seen the standard and they know if they come in then they have to perform.”

James Poole is now back in full training following his hamstring troubles, although the Chairboys clash will come too soon for the 21-year-old.

Pools (probable): Flinders; Austin, Hartley, Collins, Horwood; Haslam, Murray, Sweeney; Brown, James, Monkhouse. Subs: Rafferty, Humphreys, Baldwin, Boyd, Nish.