HARTLEPOOL United boss Colin Cooper will ask his medical team to work around the clock in a bid to make sure star keeper Scott Flinders is fit for Saturday’s League Two visit of Southend.
Flinders was forced off at half-time during last night’s 3-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest in the first round of the Capital One Cup.
The keeper had complained of a slight tightness in his backside before the game but, after feeling the problem again during the first half, it was decided to minimise the chance of further injury.
And Cooper admits he will now turn to his physios in the hope of getting Flinders on the pitch for the all-important first home game of the campaign.
“I’d like to think Scott has more than a 50-50 chance,” Cooper said. “He is sore but there are three days before the game and our medical team will be working very hard to get him fit.
“We need our them to be grafting for the next few days to make sure we get him on the pitch on Saturday.
“Scott is a very important part of our team, and that is no disrespect to Andy Rafferty, who has had a smashing pre-season. But we want Scott out there because he is a huge player for us.”
Classy Forest were slick in possession and incisive in attack as they swept to victory thanks to goals from Radoslaw Majewski, ex-Sunderland defender Greg Halford and Matt Derbyshire before Neil Austin headed a late consolation.
Halford was denied a headed opener by a well-placed Christian Burgess, but Majewski made the breakthrough, skipping between two defenders 20 yards out before hammering low into the bottom corner.
Halford doubled the lead, heading home a cross from another ex-Black Cat, Andy Reid, then Jamie Patterson’s deep floated cross was helped above and beyond sub keeper Rafferty by Derbyshire’s brow.
Austin’s consolation arrived on 76 minutes when his header looped into the bottom corner from Darren Holden’s long throw.
“I said to the lads that it’s difficult against top-end footballers,” Cooper added.
“They dominated possession but we knew they’d do that so the hope was to catch them on the break, which we did once or twice but still that final piece needs work.
“But they were very good, they are just a better team than us. We came up against a very good team who will be challenging at the top of the Championship and we’ve no complaints with the outcome.”
NOTTM FOREST: De Vries, Jara, Harding, Guedioura, Hobbs, Halford, Paterson, Majewski, Cox (Derbyshire 26), Henderson (Miller 70), Mackie (Reid 61). Subs: Darlow, Collins, Cohen, McLaughlin. Goals: Majewski 33, Halford 65, Derbyshire 67
HARTLEPOOL: Flinders (Rafferty 46), Austin, Holden, Walker, Baldwin, Burgess, Walton, Sweeney, Franks, Compton (Howard 61), James (Rodney 84). Subs: Collins, Poole, Monkhouse, Richards. Goal: Austin 76.
Att: 9,081. Ref: Stephen Martin (Staffs).
H Ex-Sunderland defender Peter Hartley, absent from the squad at Forest, could have played his last game for Pools. He was linked with a move to Stevenage throughout the summer and it is thought they have revived their interest in recent days and the centre-back could move south before the weekend.