Ronnie Moore says he has “searched high and low for players” – only to find a right-back on the doorstep.
Hartlepool United have signed Brad Halliday on a month’s loan from Middlesbrough to fill the problem right-back spot.
Halliday will make his debut at St James Park in tomorrow’s League Two clash, when Pools will be looking to end their recent miserable run of results.
Moore wanted youth, energy and experience and he has all three in the shape of the Boro defender.
The 20-year-old, a regular for Boro in the Premier U21 League, has extensive knowledge of League Two, having played 24 times on loan at York City last season.
“We’ve searched high and low for players,” said Moore. “You like to get some experience in obviously. But Brad played over 20 games for York at our level last season so that’s one of the main reasons we’ve brought him in.
“Everyone speaks very highly of him – he’s a proper right-back with a bit of pace and the nastiness you like in a defender so I don’t feel it’s a gamble ,like it can be with other young players.
“This kid knows what to expect in League Two – when you’re playing the Exeters of this world he’ll know how they play, so there’ll be no shock to the system.”
Moore is without first-choice Michael Duckworth, who strained a hamstring when making a goal-saving tackle in the Johnstone’s Paints Trophy tie with Sheffield United.
With his deputy, Carl Magnay, starting a three-match suspension after being sent-off at Wycombe, the Pools boss was desperate for cover, especially with the injured Sunderland-born full-back Jordan Richards (back) also on the sidelines and would-be replacement, ex-Middlesbrough defender Stuart Parnaby, suffering a calf strain in the reserves in midweek and subsequently calling and end to his playing career.
-minded player in the early weeks of the season.
But Moore is unlikely to rush him back given the nature of hamstring problems, so Halliday could stay for more than the initial four weeks.
“It’s for a month to start with because of the injuries at right-back which have been a nightmare for us,” said Moore.
“But I am sure Brad will come in and do really well for us.
“It might be hard because he’s coming in at a bit of a tough time for us defensively but I hope he can settle in quickly with the lads and show one or two how to defend.”
Halliday in for the suspended Magnay is the only certain change to the line-up.
There is a concern over Harry Worley who has sceptic toe, though Matthew Bates is fit to return should the former Chelsea youngster be ruled out.
Bates played an hour for Pools reserves at Scunthorpe on Tuesday and could be preferred anyway though Moore, who also has on-loan centre-half Andrew Boyce available, may stick with the Worley-Scott Harrison partnership.
Further up the park, there are doubts over Billy Paynter and Rakish Bingham with hamstring trouble.
Paynter is a serious doubt, having been forced off at Wycombe last weekend.
He has not trained this week and while the captain will be desperate to play, Moore may opt to try to get him fully fit for next week’s match with Cambridge United.
That would mean a start for Scott Fenwick, who has happy memories of Exeter, having scored in the great escape win atthe Vic back in April.
Bingham trained yesterday and should be fit to join him in attack.
Pools (probable): Bartlett, Halliday, Harrison, Worley, Jones, Oates, Featherstone, Woods, Carroll, Fenwick, Bingham.
Subs: Denton, Boyce, Bates, Nelson-Addy, Hawkins, Oyenuga, Smith