Matthew Bates: Fitness management set to be make or break for Hartlepool United

Matthew Bates.
Matthew Bates.

Managing injuries could end up being decisive in Hartlepool United’s relegation run-in - that’s the view of caretaker Matthew Bates.

Pools are set to be without defender Scott Harrison for this afternoon’s clash at Maidstone United, but are boosted by the return of Liam Donnelly from international duty.

Having lost a number of senior pros at the start of the year Bates’ has had to run with a threadbare squad since taking over from Craig Harrison.
And he knows that situation is only likely to get worse, with a games coming thick and fast over the next few weeks.

As a result, the former defender knows he must manage his squad through this busy period, especially with so much riding on the outcome.

“Scotty Harrison is going to be two weeks out and we are short as it is with three defenders available,” confirmed Bates ahead of the Stones encounter (kick-off 3pm).

“We have to keep going and we have to look over our shoulders. People have to realise the size of this squad and if we get a couple of more injuries we really are down to the bare bones. We have to keep them right.

“The lads have carried on with injuries, Blair Adams had cramp and we hope we can get through this run of games unscathed.”

What’s been obvious in recent weeks is the fact Pools’ level of performances have upped.

Bates has been given plenty of credit for that, but, modest as ever, he’s not really sure what’s changed.

What ever it is, he hopes the players continue to react to his methods.

“I don’t know to be honest about how I got this reaction, I’ve just been myself,” said Bates.

“I’ve simplified it, at this level you have to be simple and go back to basics. It seems to work at the moment.

“It’s hard work and desire and it’s working and I’m pleased with it.”

Takeover talk is never from consciousness at Pools at the moment.

Bates says it is not having impact with his squad, though - they’re just getting on with business.

“The players have been paid, they are aware what it going on. It probably has been playing on their minds of late, but things are turning around now,” said the caretaker boss.

“Maybe they are playing for contracts now and we are looking at where we need to be.

“I am doing the job now, I started it when I was asked and will carry on until told otherwise. I’m doing it day to day. It now looks like something will happen and I’m sure we will have a conversation as and when but until that happens it’s carry on as we are.

“The players went out [against Bromley] and weren’t affected by the talk of the takeover. I was more concerned on them resting on their laurels, thinking their wages were safe.”