Pools boss Hignett set to start with Bates against Crewe

Matthew Bates in action for Hartlepool United.
Matthew Bates in action for Hartlepool United.

Craig Hignett looks set to welcome Matthew Bates back into his starting XI for tomorrow night’s intriguing match at Crewe Alexandra.

Hignett made five changes to his side from Tuesday night’s heartbreaking 1-0 EFL Cup exit at Preston North End.

Bates returned to the bench at Exeter, though he was called into the fray for the second half after Rob Jones took a bang to the head.

With the giant central defender now likely to sit out the visit to Gresty Road, Bates will start alongside Toto Nsiala, with Scott Harrison, fresh from signing a contract to stay at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium, coming onto the bench.

“Rob got a whack on the head and felt a bit dizzy, he wasn’t quite sure where the ground was so that was an indicator we might have to take him off,” said Hignett.

“To be fair, it was a toss up pre-match between him and Batesy over who would start.

“Batesy was outstanding at Preston but so was Rob against Colchester.

“I took the decision to start with Rob, but Batesy is a quality defender and he came on and, if anything, he improved us.”

Pools looked off colour in the first half at St James Park, prompting two changes in personnel, though one was enforced following that injury to Jones.

But Pools found their energy and form after the interval and two goals inside two minutes took them to a 2-1 victory.

“At half-time we had a couple words – we weren’t quite what we wanted to be in the first-half,” said Hignett.

“We had sat back, we were lethargic, allowing the game to pass us by and we had to change it.

“I had I wanted to play like we did against Preston and be hard to beat, and we never got going on the front foot until we put two up front.

“The changes worked a treat and were really dominant. We scored two and could have had more.”