MICK Wadsworth fears his injury-stricken Hartlepool United squad will be stretched to its limit between now and May, writes CRAIG HOPE.
Antony Sweeney (ankle), Neil Austin (calf), James Brown (ankle) and Steve Haslam (back) are all suffering.
Throw in minor niggles to Paul Murray and Andy Monkhouse and there could well be a queue at the physio’s door.
However, it is understood that Wadsworth will not be dipping into the loan market – ahead of Thursday’s deadline – in a bid to plug those gaps. With Pools 11 points clear of relegation with just eight games left, further outlay on wages is not deemed urgent.
Nonetheless, Wadsworth, whose side were thumped 5-2 at Walsall on Saturday, is concerned at his mounting fitness woes.
“We need to get some players back as soon as possible,” he said ahead of Friday’s visit of Rochdale to Victoria Park.
“Sweeney, Haslam, Brown and Austin are all out and others have little niggles. Murray was carrying his knee a bit, Monkhouse has a hip injury and I can’t change it around too much. We have done very well without having too many options, but now it’s all come at once.
“We’ve managed to get by all season, and to be where we are is fantastic. We’ve been lucky that when one player was out another was coming back. But there was always a danger this situation could arise where we start becoming stretched.”
Meanwhile, Pools’ reserves go to Leeds tomorrow. Wadsworth could choose not to risk the likes of Armann Bjornsson and Fabian Yantorno, given his first-team fitness worries.