'I've got a lot to think about' - Hartlepool United manager Graeme Lee admits it will be a difficult decision when naming his squad to face Rochdale

Graeme Lee admits he has a tough decision on his hands when it comes to picking his team for the visit of Rochdale.

By Joe Ramage
Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 5:12 pm

Pools welcome Dale to the Suit Direct Stadium in what will be Lee’s first League Two game in charge of the club following his appointment last week.

Lee observed Pools’ impressive win over Sheffield Wednesday in the Papa John’s Trophy from the stands as interim boss Antony Sweeney made eight changes to the starting XI before Lee himself made nine for Saturday’s trip to Lincoln City.

Lee suggested upon his arrival those cup ties would afford him the opportunity to assess the majority of his squad in game situations ahead of the big test which is solving Pools’ league form.

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Jamie Sterry is available for selection again following his suspension (Credit: Will Matthews | MI News)

Lee joins the club having lost five in a row in the league and knows just how important it will be to make a winning start at the Suit Direct Stadium.

But how does Lee make the decision on who to start against Rochdale?

Pools have kept two clean sheets and scored four goals in the last week as a number of players have thrown their hat into the ring for consideration with fine performances.

Add in the return of defender Jamie Sterry who is available again following his suspension, and Lee has something of a selection headache.

Graeme Lee faces a tough decision when selecting his team for the visit of Rochdale (Credit: Mark Fletcher)

“It’s going to be difficult. I’ve got a lot to think about and I’ll have to see how the lads recover,” Lee told The Mail.

“But it’s going to be like that no matter what when I’m picking teams and picking subs.

“I need to make sure I get the right balance of what’s going to be successful and who plays well with each other, who can impact and do things that others can’t do.

“But the desire shows I’ve got an honest bunch of lads who are willing to do that hard work and that's one of the main parts of what you need.

“There was a squad of 24 players yesterday and they’re all probably thinking they want to play,” Lee added.

“My challenge is to try and pick the right team and the right balance but keep the other players in a good place, because you've got a hell of a squad there.

“They’ve been fantastic and my job now is to keep that momentum going.”

While the team selection may prove problematic for Lee, one thing Pools fans might be confident on is that Lee won’t stray too far from the system which has earned Pools such success over the last 12 months.

In his final league game in caretaker charge Sweeney reverted to a back four with two holding midfielders in an attempt to arrest a poor run of form before switching to a back five in the Papa John’s Trophy.

On Saturday, Lee went with that back five and the results of both games spoke volumes.

“Like I kept saying, I don't want to come in and try and change everything,” said Lee

“I don’t need to change all sorts when things aren't a million miles away from where they want to be and the players suit this system I could tell, so it’s just trying to adjust what I wanted in that system really.”

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