Rested Hartlepool United stars to make return for Stevenage away day

Craig Hignett
Craig Hignett

Craig Hignett hopes to have a “full squad” to choose from for tomorrow’s key League Two trip to Stevenage.

Hartlepool United go to Broadhall Way potentially just a win away from being back in the play-off picture (kick-off 3pm).

They visit a Borough side seven places below them in 22nd spot following a 5-2 thrashing at Grimsby.

“It’s another away game but we’ve done fine away from home so far,” said Hignett. Only suspended defender Toto Nsiala is a definite absentee.

The Pools boss hopes to have Nicky Featherstone and Padraig Amond back tomorrow after last Saturday’s goal aces were given Wednesday night off. They sat out the Checkatrade Trophy defeat at Notts County, as did Matthew Bates, who came off with an ankle problem in the 2-2 draw with Newport County last weekend.

Fellow defenders Carl Magnay (ribs) and Rob Jones (back) could also resume, giving Hignett several selection headaches.

“I have Toto who is out, but that is it,” said Hignett.

“The other lads will be ready.

“Mags is back in training but I didn’t want to risk him on Wednesday night – he’ll be fine for the weekend.

“We should have a fully-fit squad,

“I just felt a few of the players needed a bit of a rest, either because of knocks or the fact we’ve played a lot of games in a short space of time.

“Nicky and Podge got little knocks from Saturday and probably couldn’t have played at Notts County, but we’ll assess them for Stevenage.”

Hignett has selection quandary after selection quandary.

Magnay is likely to return at right-back for Jordan Richards, but the manager must choose whether to pair Bates with Jones or Scott Harrison, who made his first start of the season at Meadow Lane.

Featherstone and Michael Woods will be reunited in midfield with Nathan Thomas and Lewis Alessandra outside them, with Billy Paynter and Amond the men up top.

Thomas did not feature at Meadow Lane while Woods was a unused sub, with Paynter and Alessandra taken off at the break.

“I didn’t want Billy and Lewie to play,” said Hignett. “But I had to because of the stupid rule that five players from Saturday had to play in the Trophy.

“They had to play some part in the game – I thought about bringing them off after 30 seconds but given they had travelled I decided to give them a half.

“I wanted to rest players because we’d had a lot of games in a short space of time but was restricted on who I could leave out.

“But I hope we have a full squad, with the exception of Toto.”

Hignett has his two new signings at his disposal – loan strikers Bradley Fewster and Tom Heardman.

The duo joined this week from Middlesbrough and Newcastle and both could feature in the squad tomorrow.

Heardman, a giant at 6ft 4in, is still working his way back to full fitness, so Fewster may be a little ahead of the Geordie.

But Hignett says he is happy with the 20-year-olds.

“I’ve been really pleased with both lads,” he said. “They weren’t registered in time for Notts County but everything will be done and dusted for tomorrow.

“I’ll assess them in training [today] and then we’ll take a squad to Stevenage which is capable of winning the game.”

Pools (possible): Bartlett, Magnay, Bates, Harrison, Carroll, Alessandra, Featherstone, Woods, Thomas, Paynter, Amond.

Subs (from): Dudzinski, Richards, Jones, Laurent, Deverdics, Hawkins, Oates, Fewster, Heardman