COLIN Cooper faces a selection poser ahead of Hartlepool United’s big confrontation with Scunthorpe tomorrow.
The Pools boss must decide whether to start with loan signing Jack Barmby following two impressive substitute outings.
Certainly, the teenage Manchester United talent is knocking on the proverbial door after a stunning debut goal against York City and some more promising play at Wimbledon.
Fellow loan signing Luke Williams will again start after two fine performances in his first two appearances, but Barmby is something of a quandary for Cooper.
Experienced attacker Andy Monkhouse would appear to be the man under most threat, though the 33-year-old has performed well himself.
“Knowing Luke inside out as I do, I knew I was putting him straight in the team,” Cooper explained.
“Hence, I made a slight change of shape to get him in.
“Regarding Jack, as much as we knew the ability and knew what he could offer, it was a case of him finding his way in.
“The impact he made on Saturday was exceptional and he showed those little flashes again the other night.
“It’s just a question now of does he deserve a start? And, if he does, how we need to manipulate things formation wise to get him in.
“Me and Craig (Hignett) will sit down and discuss everything and then we’ll see what happens on match day.”
A left-footer and 6ft-plus, Barmby would be a natural down the left of the new Pools midfield diamond.
Cooper has gone on the record that there is no stipulation in either loan agreement that the youngsters must play.
But the 46-year-old must be tempted to go with both England youth internationals tomorrow.
The only other option would be to pair Monkhouse with Luke James, but he will almost certainly send out the Marlon Harewood/James partnership up top.
Further up the age scale, Sam Collins will step into central defence in place of the suspended Jack Baldwin, who will miss two games after accumulating 10 bookings this season.
Collins will slot in alongside Christian Burgess – the pair having impressed together previously in the 4-1 win at Mansfield after Baldwin had been switched to midfield.
Scunthorpe will be without experienced striker Deon Burton, who suffered a calf strain in last week’s 3-3 draw at Dagenham & Redbridge, where the Iron let slip a three-goal lead in the face of strong Daggers pressure and horrendous weather.
Pools (probable): Flinders, Austin, Collins, Burgess, Holden; Williams, Walton, Walker, Barmby; Harewood, James, Subs: Rafferty, Hawkins, Sweeney, Monkhouse, Franks, Compton, Rodney,