Hartlepool United’s Nathan Thomas will only come back when 100%, says boss Dave Jones

Nathan Thomas. Picture by Frank Reid
Nathan Thomas. Picture by Frank Reid
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If there is one Hartlepool United player who would get Yeovil Town in a cold sweat it is Nathan Thomas.

But boss Dave Jones has given no guarantee that the highly-rated former Sunderland academy attacker will be back to haunt them tomorrow at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium.

Thomas scored two brilliant individual goals when Pools stole a 2-1 win at Huish Park in September and led the Glovers a merry dance 12 months ago when Craig Hignett won his first game in charge, ironically by the same score.

But Jones, who did not risk the 22-year-old at Newport last weekend, insisted he needs to be 100% fit before he picks him.

“Nathan is back training with us full-time,” said the boss.

“He came on for 10 minutes in the last home game against Stevenage and wasn’t quite ready and we lost him for a week after that.

“We have to make sure he is right and if he’s not we could lose him for a month.

“Last week, he was stiff and sore so we kept him back from Newport to look after him.

“Sometimes you have to be patient and say ‘we are not going to bring you back yet’ – if it was a cup final you might have second thoughts, but not at the moment.

“I have to trust the physio and his staff and they tell me he’s just not quite ready.

“You can’t throw him right in, you could end up doing more harm than good.”

That is not to say that Thomas will NOT play against Yeovil.

If he comes through training today at Maiden Castle and head physio Ian Gallagher give him the green light, Jones might well let him loose tomorrow.

One man who will miss out is captain Billy Paynter, who while making progress from an Achilles problem is not yet back to fitness.

Having named the same XI two Saturdays on the spin, the Pools chief is likely to make a change or two tomorrow.

Padraig Amond is almost certain to win a first start under Jones, having come off the bench at Rodney Parade to score his 10th goal of the season.

There could be one enforced change, with Michael Woods currently having treatment to an ankle injury.

Josh Laurent, who would have been a candidate to replace Woods should the ex-Chelsea midfielder be ruled out, has this week moved on to Wigan Athletic.

Nicky Deverdics, who this week turned down the chance of a loan move to former club Gateshead to try to win a place in the Pools side, could be a contender.

The manager’s two new forward signings look set to come in on the bench.

Andrew Nelson, 19, has joined from Sunderland on loan for the rest of the season with an identical deal being struck for Plymouth Argyle’s Louis Rooney, 20.

“We needed strikers and we are in a situation where we have to score goals,” said Jones.

“But we aren’t in a position where we can cherry pick the best, as they cost the most money.

“We have to look and see what’s available.

“They are both highly recommended, so let’s get them in and see.”

Pools (probable): Bartlett, Donnell, Bates, Harrison, Kavanagh, Featherstone, Hawkins, Woods, Walker, Oates, Amond.

Subs (from): Fryer, Richards, Martin, Richardson, Deverdics, Alessandra, Thomas, Rooney, Nelson

Yeovil (probable) Krysiak, Shephard, Smith, Lacey, Dickson, Butcher, Dawson, Dolan, Whitfield, Zoko, Eaves

Subs (from): Mugabi, Maddison, Sowunmi, Goodship, Bassett, James, Harrison, Jones, Akpro, Tshimanga