Ronnie Moore wants Magnus Okuonghae at the heart of the Hartlepool United defence for Sunday’s televised clash with Leyton Orient – and beyond.
The Pools boss hopes the giant centre-half will be fit for the Sky Sports-screened lunchtime showdown with the Londoners at Victoria Park.
If fit and if selected, the 29-year-old’s appearance against the O’s will be the fourth and last of his month’s loan.
But Moore plans talks with Luton Town boss John Still about extending Okuonghae’s stay.
“The idea from Luton when he came was that he was just here for a month,” said Moore. “They wanted him to come out and play games and get match-fit.
“But he came off at Wimbledon before half-time and then couldn’t play in the FA Cup.
“I will speak to John Still at Luton and see what his feelings are.
“This would be his last game on Sunday.
“The two physios have been in touch about Maggers more than the two managers have because he’s had 10 days off and has been having treatment.
“But I would love to take him for another month.
“Magnus has proved his worth from the his first game.”
Okuonghae, who joined Pools to get match-sharp after Achilles trouble, suffered a foot injury in the 2-0 defeat at Wimbledon.
Moore is hopeful he’ll be available against promotion-chasing Leyton Orient.
“He’s been carrying a bit of a metatarsal and there’s nothing worse than a foot problem and a player trying to run on his toes,” said the manager.
“If he’s fit and we can have him for a month then I will take him.”
The Pools squad were today enjoying a day off, but should Okuonghae come through training tomorrow and Saturday, Moore is likely to pick him.
But the boss admits it’s a tough call if he leaves out fellow loan signing Adam Jackson.
The 21-year-old Middlesbrough loan man was outstanding alongside Matthew Bates at the centre of the Pools defence in the 1-0 FA Cup win over Cheltenham Town last weekend
“It will be very very difficult for me to leave someone out after the way the defence played,” explained Moore. “Adam did well on his debut.
“It’s hard having decisions like that, but you have to make those calls.
“You have to look at the game and what will make us better for that particular match.”
Skipper Billy Paynter (Achilles) and centre-half Scott Harrison (hamstring) are doubts, though Moore is boosted by having Carl Magnay back.
The defender/midfielder came through Tuesday’s reserve draw at Doncaster with no ill-effects and trained with his team-mates yesterday at Maiden Castle.
“Billy has an ache in his Achilles, so we monitor him and he’s probably the biggest doubt,” said Moore.
“Carl has been out for a while, but he had a reserve game at Doncaster. He did well in that.”
Bringing Magnay straight back in would mean leaving out someone who played in the win over the Robins, but Moore looks likely to start with the 26-year-old. “Sometimes it’s hard to make those decisions,” he said.
“I know what I’m going to do with the team, but we’ll just have to wait and see on the day.”