JOHN Hughes admits he was disappointed that the deadline-day departure of Steve Howard did not leave him enough time to bring in a replacement striker.
The Pools boss watched his side extend their scoreless run to 10-and-a-half hours following yesterday’s 2-0 defeat at home to MK Dons, a result which leaves them eight points from safety heading into Monday’s trip to Stevenage.
Just 24 hours earlier Howard – the biggest earner at the club – had left to join Championship outfit Sheffield Wednesday in a loan deal until the end of the season.
And, when asked if the failure to sign a replacement was a point of frustration, Hughes came back: “I’ve been wanting to bring players in since I came to the club.
“I was disappointed we could not do it quicker and get one or two in off the back of it.
“I’m still hoping there are one or two out-of-contract boys who we could get in.
“But I understand the restraints at this club, we’re right at the 65-per-cent salary cap.”
Howard, 36, has a year to run on his Pools contract, but Hughes says he could remain at Hillsborough for that period.
“They maybe want to keep him on another year after this so I would never stand in his way,” he said.
“Can you deny someone the opportunity to play in the Championship when we’re fighting for our lives?
“You don’t want to do that, especially at his age.
“They were after him in January, but it fell through then.
“It came up again on Thursday and I spoke to him and he said ‘what do you think?’. I said I wouldn’t stand in his way.”
Simon Walton was red carded as Hartlepool United’s survival hopes were all but extinguished following the 2-0 defeat at home to MK Dons.
Trailing to Patrick Bamford’s sixth-minute opener, Walton was given his marching orders early in the second half for what appeared a needless stamp on the Dons scorer.
The visitors made sure of victory soon after courtesy of Dean Bowditch to leave Pools eight points from safety with just five matches remaining.
Hartlepool United: Flinders, Austin, Collins, Horwood (Holden 46’), Baldwin, Hartley, Franks, Walton, Monkhouse, Sweeney (James 25’), Wyke. Subs: McHugh, Rowbotham, Rutherford, Hawkins, Boagey
Milton Keynes Dons: McLoughlin, Otsemobor, Doumbe Chicksen (Galloway 73’), Williams, Gleeson, Potter, Smith (Powell 56’), Bowditch, Lowe, Bamford (Chadwick 59’). Subs: Baldock, Lines
Ref: J Simpson Att: 3,269.