Michael Woods believes the presence of Luke George in the Hartlepool United midfield will give “licence” to the attack-minded players to make an impact in the attacking third.
George has made his long-awaited introduction into the Pools squad following his injury nightmare.
He’s a player who is defensively-minded and he spots troubleMICHAEL WOODS
The former Southport and Chester captain arrived at Victoria Park with a reputation for making his presence felt in the centre of the park and having intimate knowledge of the National League.
However, the Scouser was beset with a hamstring issue which turned out to be related to a back problem.
George’s entrance has coincided with mixed results – an excellent 2-0 win at Torquay and a 3-0 FA Cup exit at Morecambe.
Woods feels the 25-year-old has done well, especially considering the player is still getting acclimatised again to match action, given he missed almost three months of football, not to mention the majority of pre-season when a lot of fitness is put in the tank.
George has settled into a central midfield role alongside Nicky Featherstone, the duo operating inside a 4-2-3-1 formation on Saturday.
“He’s done well,” said Woods, who was part of a three-pronged unit, with Nicky Deverdics and Jonathan Franks, supporting striker Rhys Oates .
“For Luke, you can do all the running in training, get a run out for the reserves etc but nothing beats getting game time under your belt.
“I’ve known what it’s been like to be out for a long period.
“Being out for so long it’s not easy coming in, but he’s done well.
“It’s been nice to play with him.
“He’s a player who is defensively-minded and he spots trouble and that gives mew the licence to get forward, likewise with the widemen, it helps us get up the pitch more.”
The entrance of George into the side is not the only man back in action.
Conor Newton returned to the First XI match-day squad at the weekend following a five-match absence with an ankle injury.
Newton has not featured on the field since the home defeat to Fylde in August, but is now fit and will be champing at the bit to make up for lost time, while there is also Lewis Hawkins breathing down the midfielders’ necks
Throw in Jake Cassidy on the comeback trail after being given the all-clear after his foot problem and thee is some serious competition for places ahead of Saturday’s crucial National League trip to Boreham Wood.
“There’s a bit of competition with players coming back from injury,” said Woods.
“When everyone’s fit there is a big squad so all of us need to be on our toes.”
Those extra faces on the training ground at the Racecourse in Durham might just be the little bit of a spark boss Craig Harrison will be looking for following only the second defeat in 14 matches, at the Globe Arena, and ahead of the 10th v 12th contest at Meadow Park.