Michael Nelson suggests this is what Hartlepool United will be targeting in the summer transfer window

Hartlepool United are missing leaders according to assistant manager Michael Nelson, something he believes the club will be looking at in the summer.

By Joe Ramage
Wednesday, 27th April 2022, 12:30 pm

Nelson cut a frustrated figure at the Suit Direct Stadium having watched his side limp to a heavy defeat on home soil by Swindon Town as Pools’ poor form continued to show little in the way of letting up with just two games now remaining.

Pools have won just one of their last 10 games dating back to the EFL Trophy semi-final defeat against Rotherham United as the season looks set to end on a disappointing note despite the success that has been achieved.

But Saturday’s defeat by Swindon was a hammer blow to supporters who are desperate to see more from their side before they head off into the summer break.

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Michael Nelson says Hartlepool United may need more leaders on the pitch following recent run of poor form. (Credit: Michael Driver | MI News)

In Pools’ defence, there have been several injuries for Nelson, and manager Graeme Lee, to deal with in recent weeks including the loss of what Nelson describes as ‘leaders’ on the pitch.

Pools have been without captain Nicky Featherstone for the last three games with the midfielder forced to undergo a scan on an injury picked up in training while vice-captain Gary Liddle also missed Saturday’s defeat by Swindon with a tight calf.

On the rare occasion both Featherstone and Liddle have been missing for Pools this season the captaincy has been handed over to Neill Byrne but he, too, was missing after rolling his ankle in training.

“We’ve been looking at the summer for a long time,” said Nelson.

Hartlepool United have been without captain Nicky Featherstone for the last three games. (Credit: Will Matthews | MI News)

“If you don’t look towards the summer, everyone else is, so you’ll be left behind.

“But we’ve been planning and having a look at what we think we need and one of the things you do need is them leaders. People who can recognise the state of the game.

“Do you need to speed it up? Do you need to slow it down? Do you need to spoil it for 5-10 minutes? Somebody who can grab one of their teammates by the scruff of the neck and get an extra five or 10 per cent out of them just by being that leader and that character.

“I’d call it having a little bit of a fear factor if I’m honest. Somebody in the team who the rest of the players in the team are not scared of, but respect, and if he tells you to do something, you do it and I think we’re probably lacking that at the minute.

“You could say leaders or you could also use the term ‘men’. If you look, there’ll be a trend that teams who are up there or teams who control games have men in the team and that’s probably something we need to look at going into the summer.”

Nelson added: “It’s difficult to pick many positives out of the recent results because of the way they’ve gone.

“A lot of the changes that have been made haven’t really been to put a fringe player in to have a look at him. A lot of the changes have been forced through injury as you can see by the bench not being filled.

“But it's very difficult to make decisions on players sometimes and to see the positives when you’re on a run that we’re on.”