Matthew Bates reveals whether Andrew Davies will be fit to lead Hartlepool at Salford

How did Matthew Bates' men rate against Salford?
How did Matthew Bates' men rate against Salford?

Hartlepool United boss Matthew Bates has revealed that skipper Andrew Davies is again expected to lead the team at Salford City.

The central defender came in from the cold against Halifax Town on Saturday to reclaim the captain’s armband after six weeks out with ankle ligament damage.

And despite Pools facing their second game in just four days, Bates says Davies should be fit enough to again skipper the side.

“We didn’t think he would be ready but he trained on Thursday and Friday and felt fine,” said Bates, who will have to do without Peter Kioso, who is suspended.

“It was good that we were able to rest him when we were two goals up.

“The plan was always for Andrew to come off early and also play Tuesday.

“As long as he has no reactions he will play Tuesday. It is a difficult one with his ankle but he has to rest his muscles and we will see how he is.”

Both sides are unbeaten in their last nine and sit fourth and fifth in the table, respectively.

For that reason, Bates expects tonight to be his team’s toughest National League test to date.

“It will be hard. It will be tough. And lets be honest this will really test our unbeaten run,” said Bates.

“But we are full of confidence. We will try to win the game. On Saturday we outclassed a team around us.

“It is building blocks, we keep building.”

Arguably, bar Liam Noble, the man who scored the winner on Saturday - Nicky Featherstone - is Pools’ form player.

Bates says improved fitness is a massive factor in the resurgence of the player as a midfield force.

“He is great technically,” said Bates, who played alongside Featherstone the last time Pools visited Salford back in 2015.

“He is fitter than he has ever been and the system is really suiting the way that he wants to play. It allows him to get on the ball.

“When they went down to 10 men it allowed him to get forward a bit more and that’s where the second goal game from at Halifax.

“When you score one, then you score two your confidence is up.

“You can tell that he is confident striking a ball because of the goals he has scored this season.”

Expectations have steadily been building at the Super 6 Stadium with every game unbeaten and every point on the board.

Bates is keen to make sure things don’t get out of hand - in the dressing room, at least.

“This team can go as far as it wants,” he said.

“It is as good as any and if they keep playing as well as they did in the game against Halifax, we will have a good season.

“Our goal has not changed this season - if we exceed that then great.

“I don’t want to put any unneeded pressure on the players because all they want to do is play. They are enjoying it at the moment and we have to just take things game-by-game, week-by-week.

“I never look beyond the next game.”