Defensive dilemma for Pools boss as Duckworth, Jones stake claims for returns

Craig Hignett is facing a welcome defensive headache, with Michael Duckworth and Rob Jones both available for selection again.

Monday, 28th March 2016, 7:30 am
Updated Friday, 1st April 2016, 4:50 pm
Hartlepool United defender Rob Jones

Hartlepool United registered their longest run of clean sheets in two years when they beat AFC Wimbledon 1-0 on Friday, yet boss Hignett has two players waiting in the wings who are putting pressure on the current back four.

Centre-half Jones is back after recovering from head injury, while right-back Duckworth is also back in the fold following a groin problem.

There were fears that Duckworth could miss the remainder of the season and require a hernia operation, but the 23-year-old has resumed full training to leave Hignett with a non-existent injury list.

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“We have got players coming back,” said Hignett.

“Duckworth has now started joining in in training. Jones has joined in too, so we have no-one who is injured.”

Hignett has named an unchanged line-up for the last three games, but expects to introduce fresh legs at Leyton Orient today (3pm kick-off) for the second game in the space of 72 hours.

“I think we’ll have to (freshen it) with only a couple of days between the games,” he said.

“We’ve got a couple of bangs and knocks.

“Mags (Carl Magnay) took a knock to his ankle (against Wimbledon) and Gray one to his foot as well.”

Pools face an Orient side who suffered a 1-0 defeat at Accrington on Friday, but the Brisbane Road outfit are just one point adrift of the League Two play-offs.

There will be a familiar face in the opposition dug-out for Hignett too, with fellow Scouser and ex-Newcastle United midfielder Kevin Nolan.

Hignett added: “I know Kev quite well. He’s obviously from Liverpool.

“He’s a good lad. They’ve had a defeat at Accrington which is a tough place to go, but they like to play football like us.”