ANDY Monkhouse could be facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after suffering an ankle injury on Saturday.

The left-winger, back in the Hartlepool side after being dropped in recent weeks, was forced off after only eight minutes following a lengthy spell of treatment at Crewe.

It is feared he has suffered ankle ligament damage, and he will be assessed this morning by the club's medical staff.

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It means Evan Horwood - who scored within a minute of replacing Monkhouse - will start on the wing in tomorrow's home game with Bradford in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

Craig Lynch, who was on loan from Sunderland and has started ahead of Monkhouse of late, has returned to Wearside after a temporary spell. He made five appearances and scored once.

But with Ryan Noble moving to Pools from the Stadium of Light, the club are touching the limit of the wage capping levels and cannot keep both players.

"I would have loved to keep Ryan and Craig but because of the salary cap we can't,'' said manager Neale Cooper.

"Sunderland have been very good with us as well.

"It's been a mixed month for Craig. He said he'd love to stay but we just can't do it financially.

"We haven't got lots of options so I'd like him to stay.

"But I thought Ryan was brilliant early on and I don't fault him for the two efforts he missed.''

Cooper added: "We had six or seven good chances, which we haven't taken.

"That's not Ryan's fault because his two efforts were either blocked or saved.

"It could have easily been 3-1. Even at the end we had chances with Steve Howard and Craig Lynch.''

Of Monkhouse, Cooper admitted: "Andy's looks a bad one. This could be a chance for Evan now.

"He's a clever footballer. He's good going forward but defensively not so good at times. He's good with the ball at his feet.

"It was a well-taken goal he got.''