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Can Poole unlock defences for Pools?
JAMES Poole has been identified as a potential Hartlepool United match-winner by coach John Hughes.
While Pools struggled to break down a stubborn Portsmouth back four on Tuesday night, Hughes describing his attacking options as "predictable", he has since picked out Poole as someone who can take the game to the opposition.
With two goals in his last three games, the former Man City academy attacker, could start in a more advanced role against Leyton Orient tomorrow.
Pools are unbeaten in four, but have drawn their last two. In their current situation, they are in need of victories.
"The other night we needed a player to unlock the door and get in and at defences - but sleeping on it and we probably have in James Poole,'' reflected Hughes.
"He could get at them, but the shape and system we have means we have players behind the ball to protect.
"If we got him on the ball in a more advanced role, one on one, he can go past his player with ease and create. Give him the ball, we are doing it a bit too deep where he has to beat two or three men.
"Get him in other pockets, then get it to him quick as he can open things up.
"Freshening the team up is in mind and Stevie Howard is in the frame. We tried to get width the other night, we got in there, got ball in, but missed that physical presence.
"He comes on and the centre-halves start to wonder and he can take their attention to open up for others. He's in contention and Andy Monkhouse isn't far away (from the starting XI). I hope they come back fresh, accept they have had a reward and come back ready and focused.''
Pools were desperate to move off the bottom in midweek, but the draw keeps them 11 shy of safety and two points below Portsmouth.
Hughes added: "The disappointment at a point is a sign of the progression. For 30 minutes we started well and then lost our way.
"They sat in and were hard to break down - there was a mental tiredness about us. The boys have gave us so much of late.
"So it's four unbeaten, a clean sheet and now we rest up a couple of days. We've gave them two days off. We trust them and they know what is at stake.
"It's usually Wednesday off, in Thursday and it's a recovery day really. We felt a couple of days away could freshen them up, get their mindset right and we told them they come back in on Friday focused on the weekend, all fresh and recharged.
"I don't really need to do much tactical work in terms of our shape, it's about keeping fresh.
"There's been plenty of character showed in recent weeks. We've conceded goals and came back from it, been under pressure and stood up to it and you know as a coach that it's up to me to get the best out of them.''
Hughes is thinking of offering a short-term deal to Dennis Knight, after he scored twice for the reserves on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old was released by Newcastle United earlier this month and has been training with Pools.
"Dennis did exceptionally well on Wednesday - he can see a pass, has a wand of a left foot and can score a goal,'' said Hughes.
"He's done himself no harm and we might give him the platform and say 'there you go, show us what you've got'.''
Pools will be without right-back Jordan Richards for the rest of the campaign. He has been out of action with a knee problem and broke down during the second string game.
He will now undergo cartilage surgery with the aim of returning for pre-season.