Football - Trio set for Pools return

Hartlepool boss John Hughes could be given a triple boost in his search for a first win in charge of the club against Portsmouth.

PA Sport

Hughes, who replaced Neale Cooper in mid-November, has lost four and drawn one of his first five games at the helm, but midfielders Nathan Luscombe (knee) and Simon Walton (hamstring), plus defender Peter Hartley (conjunctivitis) all returned to training on Thursday and hope to be in contention for the weekend.

Defender Evan Horwood could face a late fitness test after being forced off with a groin injury early in last week's defeat at MK Dons. Teenager Darren Holden replaced him on Saturday and is on stand-by.

Another teenager, striker Luke James, also hopes to return to the squad following a bout of tonsillitis, but goalkeeper Andy Rafferty remains a long-term absentee following his summer knee operation.

Pools, 11 points adrift at the foot of the table, are chasing their first win since September 1 - their only success in npower League One this season.

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