How will Hartlepool United combat injuries to key attacking players ahead of new National League season?

With less than two weeks to go ahead of the new National League season, Hartlepool United have been hit with a double injury blow.

By Dominic Scurr
Tuesday, 23 July, 2019, 11:45
Luke Molyneux had to be taken to hospital following a challenge in the 2-1 defeat at York City last week (photo: Frank Reid).

Summer signing Luke Molyneux picked up a foot injury in the defeat at York City last week before Josh Hawkes pulled up with a hamstring injury following Saturday’s win over a young Sheffield United side.

Fortunately, Molyneux’s injury wasn’t as bad as first feared as x-rays confirmed no fracture though he would still remain sidelined for the start of the National League season on August 3.

20-year-old Hawkes will also miss the start of the campaign with manager Craig Hignett confirming he could be out for ‘three to four weeks’.

Josh Hawkes picked up a hamstring injury in the final moments of Hartlepool's 4-2 win over Sheffield United under-23s (photo: Frank Reid).

With United hoping to hit the ground running, losing two dangerous attacking players could be seen as a big blow considering Hignett had previously stated: “Going forward, we’re as good as anyone in this league with Luke (Molyneux), Gime (Toure), Nicke Kabamba, Josh Hawkes, Luke James and Ryan Donaldson – they’re players who will cause teams problems because I want to play attacking football and I want to score goals.”

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Now, half of those players are out injured with Donaldson the only Hartlepool player yet to feature in pre-season so far due to a calf injury.

Thankfully, the strength in depth in the Pools squad means Hignett will still be able to operate with a strong attacking line-up either as a front two or three due to the versatility of Toure and James being able to play out wide or through the middle.

So Hignett’s potential selection headache seems to have been pre-decided for him with the United boss pointing to new signing Toure as a player who has the chance to make a big impact.

“We might play as a front two, I might go big one week and have Gime and Nicke as a front two or we might have Gime out wide so he can drift in,” he said.

“He’s versatile Gime and knows what he’s doing on the football pitch. He’s frustrating, but Luke Molyneux is frustrating, these are the players that win you games because they do things that no one else can do.”