RONNIE Moore hopes Ryan Bird won’t come back to haunt his Hartlepool United side and end their three-match winning run – IF he plays against them tomorrow.
The 27-year-old striker spent a month on loan at Pools, scoring two goals in six games, before Cambridge United recalled him at the start of this week.
Moore was hoping to extend his stay and admitted his departure was a major blow, softened by the loan capture of Preston North End striker Jordan Hugill.
Cambridge boss Richard Money has hinted that Bird won’t be in the squad that travels north, despite injuries to his other forward options, because he didn’t want to “add fuel to the circus that would be created” if he played.
Moore is hoping that is the case because he fears Bird could pop up with the winner if he does feature.
He said: “You know what fairy tales are made of – will Ryan end our little run with a goal?
“I sincerely hope that they have got injured players and it isn’t just a case of calling him back because of a fear factor.”
Money’s side has been struggling for form, with just one win in 15 league matches, and find themselves 18th in League Two, seven points above the drop zone.
A win for Pools tomorrow would drag them right into the relegation dogfight.
But Moore believes they will survive and doesn’t think their FA Cup run, which was finally ended by Manchester United after a fourth round replay, has affected them.
“I think Cambridge will be fine,” said Moore.
“But there are four or five others just below them, especially if we can get the win, who should be worried.
“If we get the win and results go for us then we could be out the bottom two at the weekend – what a massive lift that would be.
“It would have been a joyful time for Cambridge to have Manchester United in the cup, but I don’t think it has influenced them too much.
“They are just having a bad run and they are a big, physical side who we have to match.
“If we don’t, they will bully us. Sooner or later they will change form but hopefully that will be next week.”
Moore is still without Michael Woods (ankle), Matthew Bates (thigh) and Scott Fenwick (ankle) and is expected to stick with the 3-5-2 formation that has served Pools so well in recent matches.
The U’s saw loan striker Matt Harrold forced off in their goalless draw at Southend United last Saturday. He will be assessed ahead of tomorrow.
Pools (likely): Flinders, Austin, Harrison, Mirfin, D. Jones, Duckworth, Featherstone, Tshibola, Walker, Hugill, Franks.
Subs (from): Maxted. Richards, Holden, Nearney, J. Jones, Nelson-Addy, Miller, Smith, Green, Hawkins, Compton, Morgan, Harewood.
Cambridge: Dunn, Tait, Coulson, Miller, Dunk, Donaldson, Champion, Hughes, Hunt, Elliott, Harrold.
Subs (from): Slew, Norris, Nelson, Ball, Morrissey, Mendez-Laing, Kaikai, Bird.