Hartlepool United's teenage forward nearing return after six-month injury absence

Joe Grey’s long road to recovery is nearing completion.

Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 6:00 am

The 18-year-old forward hasn’t featured for Hartlepool United in a competitive game since February due to a back injury that ended his breakthrough campaign early.

Prior to his injury, Grey had enjoyed a solid first season stepping up into Pools’ first team, scoring twice in 15 appearances in all competitions.

His recovery has been a slow one and has seen him miss all of pre-season and the opening games of the 2021-22 campaign as a result.

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Joe Grey of Hartlepool United during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Kings Lynn Town at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Tuesday 8th December 2020. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

But after playing half an hour in a friendly against Gateshead last week and 45-minutes against Middlesbrough at Rockliffe on Monday, Grey is finally edging back into contention for Pools.

“He’s training fully now but as you’d imagine after a long time out, the previous week he’s still doing a lot of strengthening stuff which is going to be a natural process with him regardless but especially with the nature of the injury he’s had,” manager Dave Challinor told The Mail.

“He’s a little bit tight with his hamstrings which you’d expect with him going from not doing an awful lot to being flung back in.

"He’s trained with no ill effects so we’ll just keep building that up.

"Timescale wise, I’m not too sure. [He’s got] minutes into him in a game this week which will get him a lot closer as well.”

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While Saturday’s home match against Carlisle United may come slightly too early for Grey to be involved, Challinor is looking at Tuesday’s Papa John’s Trophy fixture against The Cumbrians as an opportunity for Grey to get back involved in a matchday squad.

“The Papa John’s trophy will be massively useful for him,” Challinor added. “But if we can, without pushing, his output has been great and importantly he’s had no reaction so if we will look to increase that over the next week.

"If all goes to plan he could become an option for us before that game but we’re looking at the Papa John’s game as a marker where we’ll certainly look to get him a competitive fixture if you like.”

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