GORDON Watson yesterday came through a reserve game unscathed.

The Hartlepool United striker, sidelined since September after breaking a leg, has missed out as Pool head for promotion from Division Three.

His comeback stalled a fortnight ago after he suffered ankle trouble in the reserve game at Scarborough.

But a scan failed to show any damage and Watson yesterday completed 90-minutes as Kevin Sheedy's side lost 3-2 at Lincoln.

The first-team slumped to a 3-0 defeat to The Imps the previous night and Sheedy said: "Gordon looked the strongest he has been since he came back - he showed a good first touch and took his goal well.''

Watson is still short of a first-team return, and he won't feature in tomorrow night's game with Bury, but Paul Smith is again likely to be on the bench.

Smith has not started a first-team game since the defeat at Hull on Boxing Day, when he needed 25 stitches in a leg wound.

He was an unused substitute in the last two games and boss Mike Newell said: "He's involved again now because he's fit. He wasn't in the squad before because he wasn't. He played for the reserves again and that will help him as it's another game under his belt.''

Watson netted a low drive yesterday, with Pool's other goal coming from Jermaine Easter. He netted from close range to put Pool 2-1 up, but they ended up losing with the last kick of the game.

* England will take on Serbia-Montenegro in a friendly at Leicester City's Walkers Stadium on June 3 as the final part of their preparations for the Euro 2004 qualifier against Slovakia at the Riverside a week later.

Sven-Goran Eriksson's side will have almost a month in which to prepare for the qualifier on June 11 following the end of the domestic season. After a friendly in South Africa and a short training break at La Manga, the squad will return to the UK to prepare for the friendly against the former Yugoslavia.

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