Pools defender set to hand Matthew Bates fitness boost

Liam Donnelly
Liam Donnelly

Liam Donnelly is set to hand caretaker boss Matthew Bates a boost by being declared fit this weekend.

The Hartlepool United defender has been out of action for more than a month, after injuring his ankle in the warm up prior to Pools 4-3 defeat to Eastleigh on January 27.

But the 21-year-old has finally recovered from the problem, which saw him undergo pain-killing injections at the back end of last week in a bid to return against Ebbsfleet United.

While that came around too soon for Donnelly, Bates is hopeful this weekend he will be able to slot the Northern Ireland Under-21 captain straight into his back four at Aldershot.

“We are hoping to have Liam back,” said Bates, who could well drop out of form Louis Laing to accommodate versatile former Fulham man.

“What is in no doubt is the fact that he has been a big miss for us.

“To have him back would provide us with a massive boost.

“While it is good news on that front, he is all that we have. No one else will have a chance for next weekend.”

Should Donnelly, as expected, be fit to take his place in Pools’ matchday 16 that will make it 14 fit senior professionals for Bates to choose from.

One player who will again sit out proceedings, bar a miraculous recovery, is Michael Ledger.

The central defender has been back at parent club Sunderland also recovering from an ankle issue.

This season has been a torrid one for the Black Cats youngster, who has not played since January 6.

Injury has seem him restricted to just three starts since October.

His season actually started in April last year, when he spent the season in Norway at Viking.

Meanwhile, Pools’ clash with Barrow has been rescheduled.

The clash will now take place on Tuesday, April 10, kick off 7.45pm.

The original fixture was called off back on Saturday, February 10 due to a waterlogged pitch at Barrow’s Holker Street ground.

After the call off, then manager Craig Harrison said: “The postponement was a nightmare but I guess it was in keeping with the way things have been going for us.

“The feeling I got from the players when we told them the game was off was just frustration because there was a confidence we could go to Barrow and get the three points.

“On the plus side, it’s a little more recovery time for one or two and another week on the training pitch so that’s good.

“But we just want to get the games going again so we’re pleased we’ve got Saturday and Tuesday coming up and we’ll prepare right to try and win both games.”

Pools match with Leyton Orient, postponed yesterday, does not yet have a new date.

The O’s were due to head to Victoria Park on March 6, but will now take on Gateshead on Tyneside in an FA Trophy quarter final replay.