Michael Woods to start against Gateshead as Hartlepool boss hails return of playmaker

Michael Woods.
Michael Woods.

Michael Woods is set for his first start in SIX months against Gateshead, with Ronnie Moore hailing the return of his playmaker.

The talented 25-year-old has been out injured since February after dislocating his ankle and fracturing his fibula in a league game against Wimbledon back in February.

Hopefully he will go on and have a really good season for us.

Ronnie Moore, Pools boss

His prolonged absence from the first team picture was a major blow as Pools battled against relegation.

But he is back fit now – a month ahead of schedule – and is set to start on Saturday when Pools travel to Gateshead.

Woods got 20 minutes in the heavy defeat to Scunthorpe United as a second half sub and Moore says he is now ready to start – and win his place back in the side.

“It was brilliant to see Michael back playing again,” said Moore.

“He made a big tackle on their guy at the back not long after coming on and that can only give him confidence after being out injured so long

“You could see when he came on the difference he made, he looked after the ball and made us play and was putting the ball in the right areas.

“We have missed him, without doubt.

“Someone who wants to get on the ball and pass it, we have missed that, and he made a couple of great tackles too.

“His appearance [against Scunthorpe] can only benefit him and he will get longer on Saturday, I will probably start him.”

Woods has been working hard throughout the summer to make sure he had a chance of being involved in the pre-season friendly programme.

And Moore has praised the efforts him and head physio Ian Gallagher went to ensure he made a speedy return from the horror injury.

He added: “That is about heart and spirit and what him and Buster have done to get him back has been unbelievable.

“Hopefully he will go on and have a really good season for us.”

Woods’ return was one of the few bright spots after the heavy loss, with the Pools midfield trio of Brad Walker, Nicky Featherstone and Matthew Bates struggling to impose themselves on the game.

Moore was left angry after the humbling by League One Iron, the club’s first defeat of pre-season.

He wants to see his players move the ball quicker and get the wing-backs involved more, with Pools set to play a 3-5-2 system when the League Two campaign begins on August 8.

“We need the wing-backs to be better,” added Moore.

“But they can only be better if we get on the ball and pass it.

“There is still plenty of time though and it isn’t all doom and gloom.

“As long as they take on board and learn from the mistakes,” reflected Moore.