Dave Jones is sweating on the fitness of Sean Kavanagh ahead of Hartlepool United’s crucial League Two trip to Colchester United.
The defender, on loan from Fulham for the rest of the season, is “struggling” with hamstring problem.
Kavanagh has fitted in well into the side, having replaced Jake Carroll who joined Cambridge United last month.
Young prospect James Martin, who has made three starts in League Two, will be on stand-by to come in.
Jones could turn to Liam Donnelly, who is fit to return following an ankle injury.
The Pools boss said he will give Kavanagh, who performed well in the 1-1 draw against Plymouth, every chance to prove his fitness but explained he would take no risks at the Community Stadium.
“We’re struggling a bit with Kav at the moment,” said Jones. “We’ll leave him as long as we possibly can.
“It’s hard for the young lads.
“They haven’t played many games at this level and then all of a sudden they are playing a lot of matches in a short period of time.
“So because of that, fatigue is going to set in.
“What we can’t do is to push them too hard because we don’t want the issue to go from fatigue so a strain or pull and then you lose them for longer.”
Donnelly could return either at right-back, where he had been operating
successfully, left-back or centre-half, though Jones is likely to keep faith with the Scott Harrison-Brad Walker combination at the heart of the defence.
Jones also reported that Carl Magnay today did some training with the first team at the Racecourse Ground in Durham.
Magnay has not played since suffering a knee injury in the 0-0 draw with Mansfield in mid-September.
The 28-year-old has made a rapid recovery from surgery and hopes to play again before the end of the season.
“Mags is joining in with some technical work,” said Jones. “He’s on the mend which is good.”
Jones also gave an update on club captain, Billy Paynter, who is struggling with Achilles trouble.
“Billy is having an injection in Liverpool today and we’ll see what reaction he has to that, rather than him having an operation,” said the manager.
“If we can get our senior players back that will help.”
One player set to return to the squad is Louis Rooney, who was unable to play against parent club Plymouth last Saturday.
With on-loan Sunderland attacker Andrew Nelson out for the rest of the season with a knee injury, Rooney’s return is some welcome good news.
“That’s a bonus for us,” said Jones.
Pools (probable): Fryer, Donnelly, Walker, Harrison, Kavanagh, Featherstone, Woods, Alessandra, Thomas, Oates,Amond
Subs (from): Bartlett, Martin, Richardson, Nearney, Hawkins, Hawkes, Rooney, Smith