JOHN Hughes hopes Jack Baldwin will only be missing short-term as the Hartlepool United talent awaits a scan.
Baldwin injured a knee in Tuesday’s draw with Colchester, after falling awkwardly when jumping for a header in his own penalty area.
He was assisted off the pitch instantly, and, while he is certain to be out of tomorrow’s home game with Yeovil, Hughes expects the midfielder to be back by the end of the month.
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“He has some swelling around the knee still,’’ the manager said. “We will get it scanned, but it has to clear yet.
“Hopefully it’s not as bad as we were fearing, we thought it might be a good few weeks.
“But we sit back and wait on it. Fingers crossed, worst case scenario two-three weeks. It’s medial ligaments, so we have to be careful.’’ Baldwin has adapted to a busy role in a three-man central midfield unit, form which has attacted plenty of attention.
“He was in a rich vein of form, playing well and getting about, getting on the ball and a lot of clubs were watching him,’’ admitted Hughes.
“I see the scout lists coming to the games and there’s a lot of talk about Jack. It’s part and parcel of football getting injured.
“Even for one so young, you sit back, take the knocks, analyse and come back better for it, with an appreciation that injuries happen.’’ In Baldwin’s absence, Nathan Luscombe is in line for a rare start tomorrow. He replaced Baldwin on Tuesday and Hughes is a fan of the former Sunderland prospect.
Hughes said: “Antony Sweeney came back this week, it’s excellent timing. It’s imperative we keep the dressing room free and that gives us numbers to choose from. He’s a valuable player and can come up with a goal.
“We were going to put him on the other night when Jack got injured, but 70 minutes might have been a bit much for him yet in terms of getting over the mental hurdle.
“We went with Nathan and it could have been Andy Monkhouse, but he’s more of a wideman or central striker and we wanted someone in the middle.
“Natty has some way to go with his fitness, but he inspires the crowd. A likeable rogue, a real good footballer and he’s popular about the place.
“It’s unfortunate he didn’t score a winner the other night right at the end – he could have come off a hero.’’ One midfielder Pools won’t be up against – although he could have been lining up for Hughes – is Matty Dolan.
The Middlesbrough under-21s captain trained with Pools at the turn of the year, but moved to Yeovil on loan.
However, he’s back at Boro after picking up a groin injury – his second spell on the sidelines at Huish Park following ankle ligament trouble.
“We missed a month full of payment for him because he was injured and it was unlucky that he got injured again just before we were going to go into another month,’’ said Glovers’ boss Gary Johnson.
“As soon as he’s okay we then have to decide whether we bring him back.’’