Hartlepool United (5/2 with William Hill – £25 in free bets) bring their unbeaten league record to Brunton Park on Saturday determined to continue the run that has taken them to sixth spot in what has been an impressive start to the new season.
Carlisle United (5/4 with Victor Chandler – £25 free bet offer) on the other hand are looking to bounce back after three consecutive defeats which have well and truly taken the wind out of the sails of their early campaign optimism, and their task has been made more difficult with defender Peter Murphy and midfielder James Berrett both suspended this weekend following their red card offences at Accrington on Tuesday night.
The good news for the Cumbrians is that Lubomir Michalik is back from international duty and he is likely to partner Stephen O’Halloran at the heart of the back line, with Matt Robson, now fully recovered from his troublesome groin strain, slotting straight back in at left back.
Frank Simek (thigh) and Paddy Madden (foot)are long term absentees for Greg Abbott, but he remains confident that his squad has what it takes to mount a challenge this season.
Speaking exclusively to FreeBetting.co.uk this morning, he said: “We genuinely feel that we have a strong squad and we are ready to go again despite the disappointment of the last three results. The addition of Lee Miller [three goals in three appearances] has given us more options up front, and if we can get rid of these silly mistakes then we are going to be a very tough team to deal with.”
The Pools are sweating on the fitness of former Carlisle defender Evan Horwood [thigh], Sam Collins [hamstring] and Jordan Mellish [foot], with all three undergoing intense treatment ahead of the weekend trip across the A69.
Two draws and a convincing 3-1 win over Rochdale suggest that Wadsworth’s side are tough to deal with on their travels, and the combined goal threat of James Poole and Adam Boyd (three-a-piece ahead of kick off) is not to be taken lightly.
“Hartlepool will come here to win, let’s make no mistake about that,” Abbott said. “We’ve had them watched and they work really hard, so we’ll have to match that if we want to get ourselves back on track. It’s seen as a local derby and they are always good games to watch, and hopefully it will be our fans with the bragging rights come full time.”