TOMMY Miller and Stuart Parnaby are a step closer to returning to first team action after featuring in Hartlepool United’s 1-0 reserve win over Gateshead.
American striker Justin Laird, who is on trial at Pools, scored the only goal of the game as the second-string recorded back to back wins.
Parnaby played 45 minutes against Gateshead in his first start for six months following knee surgery.
The former Middlesbrough and Birmingham City right-back hasn’t featured since being substituted in the 5-1 league defeat away to Northampton Town in September.
It was initially thought the 32-year-old was out for the season after surgery on his patella tendon injury back in November.
But SportMail revealed last week he was making good progress.
Sam Collins, Pools’ assistant manager, said: “It’s great to see Stuart Parnaby back in action.
“He’s trained for a couple of weeks now and looked absolutely fine so this is the next step for him.”
Meanwhile, Miller completed 90 minutes in the win over the Tynesiders as he continues his comeback from a long-term calf problem, the veteran midfielder hasn’t featured since October.
The pair were named in a strong Pools line-up for the Final Third Development League clash at Billingham Town’s Bedford Terrace ground.
New signing Ebby Nelson-Addy started, alongside Laird who played the full 90 minutes.
The 21-year-old striker played for Kentucky Wildcats in the States before heading to Europe at the turn of the year in a bid to win a professional contract.
He has trained with Swiss clubs FC Lausanne Sport and Servette FC in the past couple of months and is now on trial at Pools.
Meanwhile, Sunderland youngster Jassem Sukar, from Hartlepool, was on the bench and came on for Parnaby at half-time.
Sukar is out of contract at the Premier League club in the summer and is spending time on trial at Sky Bet League Two side Pools.
Laird’s close range finish 15 minutes from the end was enough to separate the two sides at Bedford Terrace.
He had gone close in the first-half but Heed stopper Alex Baird made a crucial block.
Michael Rankine hit the crossbar from distance for the visitors shortly after the re-start
Lewis Hawkins, Josh Nearney and Connor Smith all had decent attempts on goal for the hosts, while Jon Maxted had to be alert to palm away Jake Orrell’s curling shot.
The breakthrough finally came from the boot of Laird. Nelson-Addy drove towards the edge of the box and fed Smith.
His powerful shot was well saved but Laird tapped in the rebound to seal the win for Collins’ side.
Pools: Maxted, Richards, Holden, Green (Blackford 46), Parnaby (Sukar 46 (Howes 63)), Nearney, Hawkins, Miller, Laird, Nelson-Addy, Smith.
Subs not used: Dawson, Jewson.
Gateshead: Baird, Morse, R Wilson, Briggs, Shaw, Fondato, Sainte-Luce, Orrell, Ndlovu, Rankine, Bell (Dodds 17).
Subs not used: Ackroyd, J Wilson, Kellor, Cummins.