Hartlepool United boss faces up to crisis in defence for Luton clash

Hartlepool United's Josh Laurent sees his effort smothered by Plymouth keeper Luke McCormick
Hartlepool United's Josh Laurent sees his effort smothered by Plymouth keeper Luke McCormick
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Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett is facing up to a defensive crisis as he prepares for tomorrow’s visit of Luton Town.

With doubts over the fitness of Matthew Bates and Rob Jones, and Scott Harrison now suspended for the clash with the high-flying Hatters, Hignett could be without three of his four centre-backs.

And that could mean the manager is forced to put square pegs in round holes, should Bates and Jones remain sidelined.

Hignett said: “We will miss Scotty now, which is a problem with the injuries we have at centre-half.”

Ex-Sunderland reserve Harrison’s one-game ban, for two controversial yellows in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at League Two leaders Plymouth, now leaves Hignett with a headache.

He either rushes back one of his more experienced defenders (Jones continues to struggle with a hip injury), calls up one of the kids or moves another player out of position, possibly Liam Donnelly who has impressed in both full-back positions in recent weeks, to cover.

Of Saturday’s incident, Hignett said: “It was for kicking the ball away apparently – it was not justified. The referee was desperate to do something.

“I get fed up with hearing my own voice, when I am talking to the fourth official. The official was under massive pressure because of what was going on on the pitch. He couldn’t answer anything because he didn’t know. We have now lost Scott for a game. That is disappointing.”

Nathan Thomas’s cross looped in for Pools’ opener, but Jake Jervis equalised six minutes from time.

Hignett revealed: “I said at half-time it was the best 45 we have ever put in.

“We were excellent. We controlled the game and looked really soild. We thought up a particular way of playing I thought it worked a treat. I am really pleased with what I saw from the players.”

Plymouth Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Bulvitis, Bradley, Purrington, Songo’o (Smith 46), Fox, Slew (Jervis 46), Tanner (Spencer 59), Carey, Goodwillie. Subs not used: Donaldson, Threlkeld, Dorel, Ijaha. Booked: Miller. Goal: Jervis 84 pen.

Hartlepool Utd: Carson, Donnelly, Nsiala, Harrison, Carroll, Hawkins (Richards 90), Featherstone, Laurent, Alessandra, Amond (Paynter 81), Thomas (Deverdics 78). Subs not used: Bartlett, Orrell, Fewster, Heardman. Sent Off: Harrison (90). Booked: Thomas, Harrison, Paynter, Nsiala, Deverdics. Goal: Thomas 21.

Att: 7,591. Ref: Gavin Ward (Surrey).