Jonathan Franks, Nicky Featherstone and Keith Watson hand Hartlepool United boss Craig Harrison a triple fitness boost

Hartlepool United V Aldershot. National League.
Nicky Featherstone and Callum Reynolds.
Picture: TOM BANKS
Hartlepool United V Aldershot. National League. Nicky Featherstone and Callum Reynolds. Picture: TOM BANKS

Craig Harrison has revealed a triple fitness boost for Hartlepool United.

There is a chance Pools could have leading scorer Jonathan Franks back on Saturday at Dover Athletic, while Nicky Featherstone should be fit for the festive programme.

And the best news, potentially, is that Keith Watson has stepped back onto the training field and could resume this month.

Franks was worked hard at the Racecourse yesterday as he comes back from a hamstring strain which has ruled him out of the last three games, against Halifax, Ebbsfleet and Macclesfield.

The Pools squad are off today, but if there is no adverse reaction in training tomorrow then the 27-year-old has every chance of being involved at the Crabble Athletic Ground.

“Near enough there” was Harrison’s assessment to SportMail about the six-goal forward.

“Yesterday he was taken to the max, trying to recreate game situations, not with the other players but in a safe, controlled environment.

“If he comes through that he will probably be back in with the lads tomorrow [Friday].”

While Franks was not needed against Halifax, he was certainly missed on Saturday when Pools had a surfeit of possession and positions but could only score one past the Macclesfield keeper.

Featherstone (fractured fibula] was also not missed given the form of the midfielders Liam Donnelly, Michael Woods and man of the match Conor Newton though his experience would have been vital at the death.

“Two weeks on Monday Feaths will be back in with the group if all goes well,” he said.

“He’s been to see a specialist this week who has given us this good news.

“We’re certainly confident he’ll be back for the festive period, which is very positive not that the three on Saturday didn’t play well.

“It was a fantastic performance by the lads, they all followed the game plan and did their jobs well.”

If you are marking Watson on the ‘missed’ scale, Saturday was something like a 10.

The 27-year-old, on loan from St Johnstone, was outstanding at the heart of the defence before suffering a knee injury at Leyton Orient in September.

It was feared, at the time, that his season could have been over, but he has been making a very good recovery after his parent and loan clubs agreed to avoid surgery.

Watson will work with fitness gurus, Shaun McLaren and Craig Hubbard, and head physio, Phil Bulmer on the training ground.

“Keith is out with Craig and Phil just doing pitch re-hab,” he said.

“He’s progressed from indoor re-hab to outdoor re-hab so you are probably talking about six weeks maybe.”

Striker James Thorne is back in training too, so the queue for the physio room is starting to thin out, not that Harrison is counting his chickens.

“The way football is when these lads are back someone else could be injured,” he said.

“When it’s such a competitive and physical league, with lots of matches, lots of travelling, you just have to get on with it.

“We’ve just been a little unlucky to have three or four senior players out at the same time.”