Ryan Donaldson reveals Leyton Orient's main threat as Hartlepool United prepare to face the 'best team in the National League'

Maidstone United's Will De Havilland fouls Hartlepool United's Ryan Donaldson during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Maidstone United at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Saturday 5th January 2019. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | Shutter Press)'Shutter Press
Maidstone United's Will De Havilland fouls Hartlepool United's Ryan Donaldson during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Maidstone United at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Saturday 5th January 2019. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | Shutter Press)'Shutter Press

Hartlepool United are preparing to face the "best team in the National League" this weekend, according to stand-in skipper Ryan Donaldson.

Pools came away from Brisbane Road in October with a share of the spoils against the top of the pile O's.

Macauley Bonne is chased by Nicky Featherstone in last season's fixture between the sides.

Macauley Bonne is chased by Nicky Featherstone in last season's fixture between the sides.

But, after walking off the park with a point after a 0-0 draw, that did not stop the players making their minds up that they faced the stand out side of the division that day.

As a result, it is no shock to Donaldson Orient are top of the National League - it's more of a surprise they are not further ahead, with just three points separating them and second-placed Salford City.

"We all felt they were a very good team after we got the point down there," said Donaldson.

"They have a lot of threats all over the pitch. They have scored a lot of goals. I am not surprised they are where they are, but what does surprise me is that they have not pulled further away from everyone else.

"They have some brilliant players, it will be a big test but one we are looking forward to it against probably the best team in the National League."

Another shock to the system for Donaldson is the fact Orient have managed to hang on to striker Macauley Bonne.

Bonne has been subject to interest from north and south of the border in the last two transfer windows, with bids of at least £200,000 knocked back from the Scottish Premiership.

So keen are Orient to hang on to their 20-goal striker they're believed to have placed a £1 million price tag on his head. It has not warded off interest, with Premier League Liecester City, according to reports in December, seeing the frontman as the 'next Jamie Vardy'.

Championship outfits Leeds United and Nottingham Forest are also credited with an interest.

Donaldson sees a big future for the player, but he hopes Pools can keep him quiet for one weekend at least.

"They've done well to keep hold of him," said Donaldson.

"It was a massive boost to them that he has not left in either of the two transfer windows this season.

"When you are a player who scores goals that can translate up the levels. It would be no surprise to see him playing and scoring goals at League One level or higher.

"They have their number nine, probably the best at this level, and we will be trying to stop him on Saturday."

Pools head into the clash with Orient having not kicked a ball for a fortnight - their National League clash with Ebbsfleet United falling foul of the cold snap.

Donaldson welcomed the unexpected winter break in some ways, but on the other hand did see the call off as a missed opportunity to capitalise on their win over Braintree Town last month.

"It was nice to have a little break, not waking up on a Sunday with the usual aches and pains," said Donaldson, likely to relinquish the captain's armband this weekend with the return to fitness of Carl Magnay.

"We did want to play, though, we trained well and had some momentum.

"This is the type of things you have to get used to at this level. It adds to the schedule later on but we have a lot of free midweeks so it shouldn't really have an impact on us."