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Matthew Bates reveals the one key factor in Hartlepool United’s drop off in performance

Hartlepool United manager Matthew Bates
Hartlepool United manager Matthew Bates

Matthew Bates will take it easy on his Hartlepool United players this week, admitting they look tired after a relentless start to the National League season.

Pools have no midweek game with seven days separating their disappointing home draw with Aldershot on Saturday and next weekend’s visit of Boreham Wood to the Super 6 Stadium.

And Bates wants his players to rest up ahead of the clash, with injuries starting to creep into the squad and one or two first-teamers looking “tired”.

Reflecting back on his players’ performance, Bates said: “I think the lads were tired out there and that makes rest key.

“We have been, to this point, very lucky with injuries.

“What this break does is give the players a chance to rest and do some light training on the training field with no midweek game.

“We can maybe work on some things that we struggled with at the weekend.”

While Bates feels his side have been lucky with injuries, one or two niggles are starting to become apparent, with Niko Muir not training last week, Carl Magnay picking up a knock and also Luke Williams being ruled out for another month, as he goes under the knife to rectify a knee problem.

Defender Magnay limped out of the 1-1 draw with the Shots with a knee injury last weekend.

And Bates is hopeful the knock is not too serious and with a week to rest and recuperate the player, who has been a key component in Pools’ positive start to the season, will be fighting fit for Saturday.

Bates said: “We think he is OK.

“There is a little bit of swelling there.

“He has a history with the knee but he should be OK.”

Williams’ injury is more serious, though.

And Bates admitted post-match that he is frustrated the problem was not rectified early.

Overall, though, he feels for the player himself, who he said last week was champing at the bit to get back and make an impact in the National League.

“He has just been unlucky,” said Bates on former Middlesbrough and Scunthorpe man Williams.

“He has not been able to train properly from the time he signed. That’s football, though. You just never know when injuries can hit.

“We will support him through this and he will come back when he is fit and ready.”

Another player who will definitely benefit from the week without a game is Muir, who played through the pain barrier at times against Aldershot, having picked up and ankle injury at Salford the game previous.

“He did not train all week from Salford so it is credit to him that he got out there,” said Bates on the striker.

“I am not sure if he has meant it (the goal) but it has gone in the back of the net.

“We were happy with the goal but not the performance before the break.

“When we took him off we wanted to try and bring fresh legs on and Niko was struggling with the injury. We wanted to play two in behind.”

Despite being disappointed with his players’ performance, Bates understands every point gained at this level could prove crucial come the end of the season.

One point here or there could, in the end, prove the difference between promotion or the play-offs or nothing.

“We were not at our best. We were nowhere near where I think we should be in terms of performance,” he said.

“Even though we were one up at at half time I was not happy with the way things were going. We still managed to get a point out of the game, though, which in itself is a positive.

“We started poorly. It was much the same in the second half, too.”