Selection poser for Hartlepool Utd boss ahead of trip to to Mansfield Town

James Poole in action against Oxford United. Picture by FRANK REID
James Poole in action against Oxford United. Picture by FRANK REID

COLIN Cooper faces a selection poser this week ahead of Hartlepool United’s trip to Mansfield Town.

For three Saturdays running Cooper has sent out the same starting XI and has had three different results – a win, a draw and a defeat.

But the emergence from the bench of the effervescent James Poole in the 3-1 loss to Oxford United on Saturday could force his hand into making at least one change.

Poole lifted a struggling Pools side and while it did not inspire the result they wanted it has given Cooper food for thought.

The Pools boss took the bold decision to withdraw an out-of-sorts Jonathan Franks seven minutes before half-time.

It meant Poole took a forward position, with Andy Monkhouse in a more withdrawn role.

“When I put James Poole on, I just wanted to change the dynamic,” he told SportMail.

“Our dynamic usually is two widemen and we look to get crosses in, but it wasn’t happening.

“I just thought ‘let’s do something different’.

“OK, it’s not much after half an hour but if you see things you have to react to it.

“It wasn’t quite going for us so let’s change the dynamic and do something different.

“Did Poolie have an impact on the game?

“He did. He got on the ball, he got in behind their defence and caused them problems.”

The decision should not do any long-term damage against Franks, although he could be the man to make way if Cooper decides to start against the Stags this Saturday.

After being outplayed by Oxford throughout the first half, the manager felt he had to make the change.

Cooper added: “I said to Jonathan that it was nothing personal, he’s done some good things for us in the other weeks.

“He had not started the game as well as he has been doing.

“We didn’t have any impetus in the game and I just felt we needed to change something.”

It looked as though it could pay off, with Pools putting Oxford on the back foot in the second half.

Luke James pulled Pools level – Poole involved in the goal – but they were hit by a sucker punch with Deane Smalley afforded time and space to score the U’s second mudway through the half.

“The second goal was a bit disappointing,” Cooper admitted.

“We’d been on the front foot, causing all the issues and then that just knocked the stuffing out of us.”