Boss believes Bates can be Hartlepool’s holding midfielder

Matthew Bates in action against Morecambe. Picture by FRANK REID
Matthew Bates in action against Morecambe. Picture by FRANK REID
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RONNIE Moore believes Matthew Bates could have a future in the Hartlepool United side as a holding midfielder.

The 28-year-old joined the club as a centre back having been brought in by former manager Colin Cooper as one of his major summer signings.

He has featured in 21 games but in the 1-0 defeat at Wycombe Wanderers Moore moved him further forward into central midfield, playing just in front of the back four.

It is a role he believes suits the game of former captain Bates – who he also wants to see shift a few pounds.

Stockton-born Bates had been ill, along with several other members of the first team squad, ahead of the trip to Adams Park but he came through 90 minutes.

“It was difficult for Matthew because he had been ill,” Moore told SportMail.

“He hadn’t trained for two days and was sick on Friday and it was a hard shift for him against Wycombe.

“But if we want to play in a certain way it might be a job in there for him.

“It is very difficult to get a sitting midfielder these days, you watch the Under-21s and all the kids want to bomb on.

“That is all they do, they don’t know how to defend and that is a problem.

“When Matthew wants to get on the ball he is comfortable in possession.

“I think maybe we just need to get a couple of pounds off him and if he does that, there may be a position in there for him,” added Moore.

It wasn’t the first time Bates has played there this term, when Sam Collins was caretaker boss the first time round following Cooper’s resignation he played Bates as a holding midfielder.

But he returned to central defence under Paul Murray and then in Moore’s initial games in charge.

Playing Bates in front of the back four is a defensive move Moore is unlikely to opt for on home turf though ahead of the visit of Cheltenham Town on Saturday.

And with Scott Harrison and Dan Jones impressing at the back, the former Boro, Bradford City and Bristol City defender will find it hard to get back into the side in central defence.

Harrison, 21, has re-joined the club on loan until the end of the season from parent club Sunderland.

Moore was impressed with his impact alongside 20-year-old Jones, who Moore has named in every match he has been in charge of so far.

“I thought Scott did brilliantly,” said Moore.

“I had seen him in training but not in a competitive game.

“He did everything near perfect apart from one blip in the first-half.

“They are only young pups at the back, him and Jonesy, playing against grown men who know what this league is about and who score goals for fun.

“The performance against Wycombe was a pat on the back for them.”