Ronnie Moore believes Matthew Bates has the chance of featuring in all three of Hartlepool United’s crucial triple bill at Victoria Park.
The central defender has been in magnificent form for Pools, when he’s been fit.
Bates produced man-of-the-match performances in the 1-0 win over Wycombe Wanderers and the 1-1 draw at Cambridge which should have also ended as a one-goal success.
But his presence has been missed in the defeats at Accrington and against Exeter, the last home game which ended in a 2-0 defeat.
Bates would have returned to the centre of the Pools defence at Notts County on Saturday, only for the match to be washed out less than three hours before kick-off.
He will start tomorrow night’s critical League Two clash with Stevenage alongside Adam Jackson at the heart of the defence.
“We need Batesy,” said Moore, whose side face relegation rivals Yeovil on Saturday and Notts County a week tomorrow.
“He is in fantastic form and he’s got loads of experience.
“The two young centre-backs are good players and have done well, but they are still both learning the game.
“To have both in at the same time is possibly not ideal.
“If you have Batesy in there, he’s a talker and very good defender.
“It is a hard schedule of Tuesday-Saturday-Tuesday but it’s probably a bit easier for a centre-half to play all three rather than a striker.
“A central defender probably doesn’t do as much running as a forward but we’ll wait and see how he is.
“After Tuesday, we have three days before the next day so may be Saturday being off might have done us a bit of a favour.”
Billy Paynter is set for his first league start since the 2-0 defeat at Wimbledon on the last Saturday of October.
Moore admits it will be a big ask for his captain to play three games in eight days after a long spell on the sidelines.
But the boss says he has “options” for the front position given the competition for places which now exists in the squad.
“If Billy’s not right, we have Scott Fenwick who is capable of that job,” Moore said.
“Bings may be lacking a bit of confidence at this present time, but he is capable on his day too.
“Luke has not played a lot of matches so we’ll have to see how he goes.
“We have options for the positions up top and the formation too.”
Moore said he was “gutted” for Luke James that the Pools old boy will have to wait until tomorrow night to pull on the blue shirt again.
“Everyone was frustrated by Saturday’s match being off,” said Moore.
“But I felt for Luke - he’d been looking forward to it so much.
“Now it’s great he’ll get the chance to make his second debut at home in front of our fans.”