How Hartlepool United plan to cope with the absence of Gary Liddle against Maidenhead United
Gary Liddle was a mainstay during Hartlepool United’s 16 game unbeaten run in the National League, now the side have to manage without him once again.
The 34-year-old defender’s red card in the dying stages of the 1-0 defeat at Bromley capped off a frustrating bank holiday Monday for Pools as they slipped out of the top three.
Liddle will now be suspended for Saturday’s match against Maidenhead United at Victoria Park (3pm kick-off) as the side look to bounce back and continue their fine home form.
It’s not the first time Pools have had to deal without the experienced defender this season as he was sidelined for the majority of the first half of the 2020-21 campaign with a groin injury.
But with doubts over the fitness of defenders Lewis Cass, Ryan Johnson and David Ferguson following respective knee injuries, Hartlepool boss Dave Challinor is contemplating how to best manage the situation.
“We'll see really, [centre-back] is one position where we have cover but we do have a few niggles,” Challinor said.
"We’ve had to cope with the majority of the season without Lidds and it’s another game where we’ll have to do that.
"We’ve got to make sure regardless of personnel, shape, we go into the game and stick to our principles and fundamentals to go and win the game.”
Pools have been fairly consistent in playing with three centre-backs during the second half of the season as they’ve climbed into promotion contention.
“What we have done with our shape is try and be adaptable within it,” Challinor added. “If the personnel we’ve got on the pitch can change from a three in possession or a five out of possession into a back four then we’ll do it.
"For us, it’s about dealing with the opposition in terms of the shape they play and how we can best get on the front foot and put them under pressure.
"We might need to switch our shape to what we did earlier in the season or like we did in the second half on Monday to give ourselves more of an opportunity.
"We know what we’re doing and it’s about the 11 players out there on the pitch going out to win a game of football and hopefully we can do that.”