STEPHEN Wright looks to have nailed down a Hartlepool United starting jersey – with manager Mick Wadsworth hailing the defender’s “ruthless” nature.
The 31-year-old former Sunderland man has started the last two at the heart of the backline in the absence of injured skipper Sam Collins.
Wright has made a pretty convincing case for retaining his place in the side with a pair of pugnacious performances.
In that time, Pools have conceded just once – from the penalty spot – and Saturday’s clean sheet in the 2-0 win at Scunthorpe United was their first since mid-September.
Wadsworth admitted in the wake of that game that Collins, who is edging closer to a return following a calf strain, would find it difficult to force his way back into the starting line-up.
Wadsworth has been impressed with the gritty character shown by Wright in recent matches.
“You’ve got to be ruthless and tough and I think Stephen has that in abundance,” Wadsworth said.
“I like nasty within the rules of the game but not beyond that. Stephen has that bite and character but so, too, do the likes of Sam, Paul Murray and Neil Austin and it’s important to have that when you’re going through a difficult patch.
“He’s a guy who is desperate to play football and that’s always fantastic to see, especially in a player who has had a long career, and you can see he’s enjoying it right now.”
Wright joined Pools on a free transfer back in September but a knee injury saw him sidelined after an impressive start.
Wadsworth admits Wright, who appeared in the top flight for both Liverpool and Sunderland, would never use that experience to pull rank on his team-mates.
“Stephen’s a very honest and very humble guy,” he went on. “He’s played at the top level but certainly doesn’t use that as a tool to impress people.”