Hartlepool v Walsall preview

Team news for Saturday's League One clash between Hartlepool and Walsall at Victoria Park.

Last Updated: 22/03/13 at 14:34

James Poole: Faces a late fitness test

James Poole: Faces a late fitness test

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Hartlepool striker James Poole faces a late fitness test ahead of his side's home game.

Poole, who has started in the last 12 matches, took a kick to his left leg during the midweek defeat at Oldham and is doubtful.

Middlesbrough loanee Charlie Wyke is likely to return to the starting line-up if Poole fails to make it.

Wyke made way at Oldham for Steve Howard, who made his first start since late January having struggled to get back in the side following a hamstring injury.

Boss John Hughes could be forced to make one or two other changes as several of his squad are struggling with a sickness bug.

But midfielder Ritchie Humphreys is expected to be back in contention after missing out at Oldham due to a calf strain.

Teenagers Jordan Richards and Jack Baldwin remain sidelined with respective season-ending knee injuries.

Promotion-chasing Walsall will have to make at least two alterations at Victoria Park.

Boss Dean Smith will change an unbeaten line-up for the first time in six games to counter the loss of top scorer Will Grigg and goalkeeper Aaron McCarey.

Grigg, who has 19 goals to his name this season, is away on international duty with Northern Ireland although he is set to miss their World Cup qualifiers against Russia and Israel due to a hamstring problem.

McCarey was this week recalled from his loan spell at the Banks's Stadium by parent club Wolves, with highly-rated Manchester United stopper Sam Johnstone subsequently brought in on a deal until the end of the season.

Johnstone will now start at Victoria Park as the Saddlers aim to close the three-point gap on the play-off places.

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