HARTLEPOOL United’s survival hopes have been dealt a “nightmare” blow after Scott Fenwick and Matthew Bates were both ruled out for up to six weeks.
Fenwick, Pools’ top scorer in the league, will miss four to six weeks with his ankle injury, while Bates is out for a minimum of six weeks with a deep bleed in his left thigh.
Both missed Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Bury in Sky Bet League Two, which left Ronnie Moore’s side eight points from safety with just 14 matches left.
Moore described the loss of Fenwick to injury as a major blow for a Pools side that has scored just 24 league goals all season.
“Scott will be a big miss – four to six weeks – which is a nightmare really,” said Moore.
“Losing him is a real blow. Scott is a scorer and if he was playing against Bury we would have won.
“We have two strikers in [Marlon] Harewood and [Marvin] Morgan but having four would give us better options.”
Meanwhile, Bates has seen a consultant following the dead leg sustained at Portsmouth and tests showed a very deep bleed in his left leg.
The former Middlesbrough and Bradford City defender, who had been playing in the holding midfield role prior to his injury, has been told to rest.
Moore added: “Batesy could be six weeks, which is unfortunate as his fitness has been good of late and he has been looking like he could do the anchor role.
“But we haven’t got him so we go on,” added Moore, who said Tommy Miller would return to training today.
Fenwick had been struggling with his right ankle and playing through the pain barrier since the away game at Tranmere Rovers and, after undergoing an MRI scan, the striker has been advised to let the injury settle.
He is wearing a ‘moon boot’ to give some added protection while he rests and the hope is the club can avoid surgery for the 24-year-old.
Fenwick, who was in the stands at Gigg Lane, hadn’t been taking part in full training in recent weeks, instead working with physio Ian Gallagher.
His lengthy absence could not have come at a worse time, as Pools battle for their Football League lives.
Plymouth Argyle striker Morgan joined on loan on Deadline Day, the same day former Mansfield Town loanee Rakish Bingham was recalled by his parent club.
Fenwick’s injury leaves just Morgan and Harewood as the only recognised fit strikers at the club.
And Moore was left to rue the lack of cutting edge shown by his side at Bury.
He added: “The only thing missing for me was the goal.
“We didn’t have a goalscorer in the team and with one we would have been okay.
“That’s the only difference between the sides.
“If we scored early, they have to come out more and then it can be two or three in no time.
“As long as we were in the game, I was happy and couldn’t see them scoring - I wasn’t a bag of nerves like I have been at times.
“But the ball was coming back too easy, and we gave away the goal.”