What Hartlepool United are ‘looking to address’ with top scorer Luke Armstrong following early withdrawal at Altrincham

No outfield player has played more minutes for Hartlepool United over the past three months than Luke Armstrong.

The Salford City loanee joined Pools at the start of December and has since started all 17 of the side’s matches in that time.

The striker has nine goals to his name and has played the full 90-minutes in all but four of his appearances at Hartlepool so far.

Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw at Altrincham saw Armstrong play just over an hour before being taken off with the score level.

Tom Knowles of Yeovil Town blocks a cross from Hartlepool United's Luke Armstrong during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Yeovil Town at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Saturday 20th February 2021. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

Relatively speaking, it was a very early withdrawal for the club’s top scorer, who has regularly been praised for his all-action performances from the first minute to the last.

But with Pools down to 10-men in the match, manager Dave Challinor used the opportunity to give Armstrong a well-earned breather going into Saturday’s match against Eastleigh at Victoria Park (3pm kick-off).

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"Luke is fine,” Challinor told The Mail. “It’s something we’ve been speaking about where we haven’t had the chance to take him off at any point and he’s played virtually every minute of every game since arriving at the club.

"We’re looking to address that and seeing how we manage him because he’s so important to us and it’s vital that he’s 100-per-cent fit and firing for us.

"That lone role up front when you’ve got 10-men, as we did at Altrincham, is a really tough one and normally you need someone who is electrically quick or someone like Mols [Luke Molyneux] who can come deep and get past people.

"That’s not really Luke’s game so we used that as an opportunity to give him a bit of a breather and make sure he’s right for the weekend.”

Before arriving at Pools, Armstrong had played just 129 minutes of competitive league football for Salford City in 2020-21.

And just four days into his loan, the forward had already surpassed that figure as he seized the opportunity to get back to playing and enjoying his football once again.

Armstrong has some engine on him but hasn’t started this many consecutive matches at any point in his professional career. And that’s why Pools will need to manage the 24-year-old correctly with the hope of him firing the club back to the Football League this season.

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