Michael Woods says having Nicky Deverdics back is a major boost for Hartlepool United.
Deverdics returned to Pools ahead of last week’s trip to Notts County following month’s loan spell at former club Dover Athletic.
The 29-year-old was restored to the match-day 18 at Meadow Lane, coming on for the last half-hour for Lewis Hawkins.
And the gifted left-footer was on the field even sooner in midweek at Cambridge, where he replaced the injured Rhys Oates just after the 30-minute mark.
Deverdics made his mark, launching the pass to Padraig Amond, who set up Woods for the expertly-taken winner.
The Geordie is a contender for a start for this afternoon’s League Two match with Wycombe Wanderers at the Norther Gas & Power Stadium (kick-off 3pm).
“He was brilliant,” Woods told SportMail.
“But that’s the mentality the gaffer has drilled into us, people know the roles even if they are coming on in different positions.
“I know how hard it can be coming on in the middle of a game, getting up to the pace of the match.
“Nicky was fantastic in midfield.”
Deverdics was put through the mill at the Abbey Stadium, suffering a nasty gash to his head which required a bandage before being cleaned out late on by Max Clark who was sent off for the late challenge.
“When he hurt his head I said to [physio] Buster [Gallagher] ‘just give him a Terry Butcher and get him back on, we need him’,” smiled Woods.
The match-winner said the combination of team shape and team ethic proved key to their third win in four games and second clean sheet in three.
“The clean sheet was important,” he said.
“With Podge [Amond], Nath [Thomas] and Lewie [Alessandra] in the side we are always going to create things.
“It’s just, as a team, can we do the other side of the game.
“That’s what the gaffer has been drilling in to the players.
“You see Nath going down with cramp in the 90th minute so you know he’s put a shift in.
“That’s been what’s demanded of all us.
“We are putting in the work and we’re reaping our rewards.”