Helping hand for Hartlepool United’s Hughes as FA overturn Walton ban

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BOSS John Hughes hopes for a quadruple selection boost when Hartlepool United bid to avoid relegation in front of their owns fans this weekend, writes CRAIG HOPE.

Bottom club Pools face fellow strugglers Bury at Victoria Park on Saturday knowing that defeat could confirm their demotion to League Two.

Hughes was forced to take a depleted squad to Stevenage on Monday, when Pools lost 1-0 to drift eight points from safety.

But the Scot has been cheered by yesterday’s news that Simon Walton’s three-match suspension for his red card during the 2-0 defeat to MK Dons last weekend has been overturned, and he is now available for the final four fixtures of the season.

And Hughes revealed that the hamstring injuries suffered by Antony Sweeney and Evan Horwood against the Dons have not ended their campaign.

It was feared the duo could be set for at least three weeks on the sidelines, but they now have an outside chance of featuring against Bury.

“Both of their injuries are similar,” Hughes said. “They’re not tears, just a tweak. So we’ll see how they are. Everything we had on Monday were there – we were the walking wounded. We’re right down to the bare bones.

“Sam Collins and Ritchie Humphreys have both been nursing calf problems and they played.”

Meanwhile, Hughes could also be boosted by the return to fitness of James Poole.

The 23-year-old injured his knee during last month’s defeat at Oldham and has not featured since.

Another boost came yesterday when Luke James netted again for the Reserves in a 1-1 draw with Shrewsbury – and could land him a start for the first team who have not managed a goal in 12 hours.

James, who bagged a second-string hat-trick last week, rescued a point 10 minutes from time.

“It wasn’t his best game but he scored again,” reserve-team coach Micky Barron said.