Midfielder closes in on return for Pools, but Aldershot trip comes too soon

Jack Munns. Picture by Frank Reid
Jack Munns. Picture by Frank Reid
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Midfielder Jack Munns is closing in on a return to the Hartlepool United first-team picture.

But caretaker boss Matthew Bates confirmed that tomorrow’s National League visit to Aldershot’s EBB Stadium will come around a few days too soon.

Munns has not appeared for Pools since the New Year’s Day meeting with Gateshead at Victoria Park and has not started a game since December 9 – a 4-0 hammering at Dover Athletic.

Bates, who revealed fit-again defender Liam Donnelly’s availability, said: “For Jack Munns, this weekend probably comes around too soon.

“He is back with the main squad but is still not quite ready to be involved.

“I would expect, with a full week’s training under his belt, he will be back next weekend.

“He just needs to get that sharpness back having been out for quite a while.”

In his first week in the job, it’s fair to say conditions have been far from kind to Bates.

Adverse weather conditions have forced Pools to move away from their usual Durham University home to the Sport Domes at Seaton Carew.

“I have been happy with the players in training this week,” he said.

“It has not been easy as everyone will know. The weather has made my first full week taking this team very difficult, but the lads have been excellent after last weekend’s defeat.

“We have done a lot of work in the domes at Seaton Carew, which has been good. A lot of tactical work.

“We have working on how to stop Aldershot because we know just how good a team they are.

“What we want to do is turn their main positives into negatives. They like to play the ball out from the back and pass it around. In fact, I’d say they are the best passing side in the division.

“Getting something this weekend will be tough, but, if we stick to our gameplan, we know we can do it.”

As well as disrupting training the weather has also placed tomorrow’s trip south in doubt. An inspection is expected tonight.

“They have a very good pitch, so it is no shock they like to pass it,” said Bates.

“The pitch is looked after by Chelsea, as their Under-23s play there.

“I don’t think there will be any problem with the pitch, but it could come around the ground.

“We can’t think about, though. We have to prepare for the trip.”

Meanwhile, Bates confirmed that coaches Ross Turnbull and Ged McNamee have started work as part of Pools’ coaching set-up.

Turnbull worked this week senior keeper Scott Loach and youngster Ryan Catterick. “It was good to have the help around the training ground this week,” said Bates.

“They both bring with them a wealth of experience and that can only be a good thing for us moving forward.”