SCOTT FLINDERS will return to the Hartlepool United side next week after four months out with a thumb ligament injury.

Replacement Jake Kean has now returned to parent club Blackburn Rovers after a hugely impressive loan spell was ended by Pools.

Flinders played for the reserve side in Wednesday’s draw with Middlesbrough and his performance was enough for Mick Wadsworth to allow Kean to exit a game before his loan stint was up.

“Jake’s loan spell is up after Oldham next week. One of the things we have to look at is that Scott is ready, he is our No 1 and is fit,’’ said the coach. “Jake has done well, but as our keepers are fit we have to show faith in them.

“It’s been a fantastic experience for Jake to come here and it’s given him experience of playing week in, week out and has done remarkably well.’’ Kean arrived initially as cover for Flinders when Andy Rafferty was injured.

But then Flinders suffered a freak injury in training and Kean was swiftly pitched in for his Football League debut.

He kept a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw at Brentford and enjoyed ten shut-outs in 25 appearances.

On his Twitter account, Pools skipper Sam Collins last night saluted Keane, saying: “Well done Jake we are going to miss you, one of the best young keepers I’ve seen.

“We’re lucky we have Scott Flinders though, one of the best in our league.’’ Kean’s progress has been tracked by Rovers in recent months, and England goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence was at London Road last weekend to watch both Kean and Posh keeper Joe Lewis.

While Kean’s loan has ended, Wadsworth this week instigated another when Ryan Donaldson arrived from Newcastle.

He started Tuesday’s draw with Notts County at Victoria Park and Wadsworth said: “Ryan did well, he only had one session with us and it was a huge thing for him. He is intelligent and listens to advice, he can see what it around him and he will get better.

“He is desperate to be here and that, for me, is a wonderful first step. He’s not here under duress, it’s because he wants to be here and his club are keeping a close eye on him. He is keen to do well and has a track record.’’