Matthew Bates backs midfielder to have massive say in Pools’ National League relegation battle

Jack Munns. Picture by BERNADETTE MALCOLMSON
Jack Munns. Picture by BERNADETTE MALCOLMSON

Matthew Bates reckons Jack Munns can bounce back from an injury-ravaged season by having a big say in Hartlepool United’s National League survival battle.

And the caretaker is considering throwing his creative midfielder in from the off at AFC Fylde tomorrow, despite the fact Munns has played just 45 minutes of reserve football this year.

As well as a number of routine knocks Munns has had to battle back from his most recent absence, which involved an operation to have a benign tumour removed from his mouth.

Bates knows Munns has the character and ability to come back stronger, but accepts it’s down to him to prove that to the Pools faithful.

“Hopefully he will have a good last six weeks,” said Bates.

“I was wanting to get him involved last weekend but it was probably too soon for him and, looking back, it probably was, but he will be a good option for us now and he is in contention to start on Saturday.

“Jack has had a mouth tumour removed and of course it’s a concern for everyone. He’s a positive character and he will have a big role to play in the coming weeks.

“He’s been a miss around the place, the club and the training ground. After the operation he had to spent time recovering and resting at home. He couldn’t do anything with stitches in his mouth and his character has been missed – he’s a joker, a real Essex lad, and all the lads have missed having him around the place.”

Munns made a long-awaited return from the issue on Wednesday for the under-23s against Dunston UTS.

And Bates thinks he’s got the kind of quality that could prove crucial for Pools in the run-in.

“He did well in the 45 minutes he played. It’s going to be a big last few weeks of the season for him and we need him back to his best,” said Bates.

“He’s got that bit of quality we need and I’ve told him he will have a big part to play in the next few weeks. He’s trained well since he’s been back and he will get on with it.

“It’s been stop-start for him since he came here in the summer and now he’s over this problem we all hope he can get back to his best and help us.”

Elsewhere on the injury front it’s ‘as you were’ for Bates.

Luke George is the only player who Bates has a real concern about, bar banned Scott Harrison. It was revealed last week George could miss the rest of the season with a hamstring problem.

“Luke (George) is going to be out a long time, but apart from that and Scotty Harrison being suspended we are OK,” said Bates.

Defender Liam Donnelly will be available this weekend but will be missing for the midweek clash with Barrow due to his recent call-up to the Northern Ireland under-21 squad.