Hartlepool Utd to ring changes for Shrewsbury visit

Jack Baldwin plays the ball out of defence. Picture by FRANK REID
Jack Baldwin plays the ball out of defence. Picture by FRANK REID

NEALE Cooper admits he MUST make changes to his side for tomorrow’s visit of Shrewsbury Town – and at least three senior players are set for the chop.

SportMail believes that Neil Austin, Simon Walton and Andy Monkhouse could all find themselves relegated to the substitutes bench.

Jack Baldwin, Craig Lynch and James Poole are the three youngsters Cooper is set to turn to as he looks for a major reaction to Tuesday’s 5-0 trouncing at Preston North End.

Indeed, teenager Baldwin is almost certain to start in place of 29-year-old Austin at right-back.

“I have to make changes, I have to give other lads a chance,” said Cooper.

“It wouldn’t be right not to and some players need a message.

“I have to do something and there’s things I can do to change – it’s too important to me.”

He went on: “Jack did well last weekend at Bournemouth but didn’t play at Preston.

“He is probably happier as a centre-half but the stalwarts there are Peter (Hartley) and Sam (Collins).

“Aussie came back the other night, but he has to do better.

“From this season to last he’s not there yet.

“It’s an option to look at. Jack is a wonderful boy to work with and all the younger boys are.

“He is mature and to play right-back like he did, credit to him.

“It doesn’t phase him and he does it with the attitude to do well.

“He is a strong boy, there’s a good future for him.”

Lynch, the 20-year-old Sunderland loanee, is set for his full debut in Pools colours and could replace Monkhouse on the left-wing.

“Craig is a good lad and he could perhaps get his first start,” said Cooper.

“He’s settled well, but it’s been hard for him in the circumstances when he’s came on the past two matches.”

Poole, too, scorer in the 2-1 defeat to Carlisle United a fortnight ago, is likely to return.

“James Poole is another to come in,” Cooper continued, “I’ve got options and it’s up to players to grab their chance.

“If players aren’t playing they can come and moan, but it’s my decision.

“I’d rather make a decision like that than not do it and regret it.”

Paul Murray was sacrificed at half-time at Deepdale as Cooper sought to reverse Pools’ two-goal deficit.

The 35-year-old, however, is not in danger of losing his place for tomorrow’s game, meaning summer signing Walton could again be dropped.

“Paul came off the other night but I was thinking about the two games in four days and the journey too,” explained the Pools boss.

“But I think the world of him and he’ll have a big part to play for me this weekend.”

Meanwhile, it is hoped Steve Howard will be fit to feature despite stitches in his shin.

POOLS (probable) 4-4-2: Flinders; Baldwin, Collins, Hartley, Horwood; Franks, Murray, Sweeney, Lynch; Poole, Howard. Subs: McHugh, Humphreys, Austin, James, Walton, Holden, Monkhouse