Beleaguered boss Craig Harrison has been given even further headaches after Lewis Hawkins joined the growing list of Hartlepool United absentees.
The midfielder made a battling return to the Pools starting XI at Workington in the FA Trophy on Saturday, only to be sent off in stoppage time.
I’m not sure, with a minute of the game to go is that really a yellow card?CRAIG HARRISON
Hawkins has been handed a one-match ban and will sit out Saturday’s crucial National League home match with Maidenhead United.
The 24-year-old went into referee Simeon Lucas’s notebook on the hour for a foul and when he lunged in at the death to concede a free-kick on half-way to prevent the home side breaking, he did not even wait to see the official produce the second yellow card.
Harrison felt the decision was “harsh”, though, in truth, the ref could have done little else.
With it being two yellow cards, Pools are unable to appeal, so they can’t get Hawkins off the suspension, as they did last week with the red card Nicky Deverdics received at Dover the previous Saturday.
Hawkins performed well in the deepest midfield role and he would have started there again on Saturday against the Magpies, but for this untimely sidelining.
His inclusion in the midfield unit, with Michael Woods and Conor Newton, allowed Harrison to switch the team’s best defender, Liam Donnelly, to the back.
Harrison would have loved to have used Donnelly at the centre of defence, but the Northern Ireland U21 skipper was forced to stand in at right-back.
Skipper Carl Magnay was hospitalised last week by fluid on the lung after a collision with an opponent early on in the 4-0 defeat at Dover, where he played on to the bitter end.
The 28-year-old will miss the match against Maidenhead, with Harrison hoping to have him back for the Boxing Day derby at Gateshead.
Kenton Richardson, the defender who would have replaced Magnay, was injured in training last week, when he suffered a broken nose.
Hopefully, the teenager will be fit to resume this weekend, which would allow Donnelly to move across to centre-half.
Harrison lost Michael Ledger with groin and back trouble for the FA Trophy tie at Borough Park, frustrating for both manager and player alike given the on-loan Sunderland defender had only just returned to the starting XI the previous weekend.
Ledger has joined the queue for the treatment room which includes Ryan Donaldson, Nicky Featherstone, Luke George and Keith Watson.
Pools hope to have Featherstone back for the festive period, while Watson, badly missed at the back during his recovery from a knee problem, could be back early in the New Year.
“Obviously, Hawksy getting sent off does not help,” said Harrison.
“I’m not sure, with a minute of the game to go is that really a yellow card?