Hartlepool United v Bradford City: Isolationist policy for Andy Cook over, says Mark Hughes
With 11 league goals this season – six more than his closest team-mate, Lee Angol – Cook has shouldered a heavy burden up front for the Bantams this season, and the fact he was often isolated in attack was one of the fans’ big frustrations under previous manager Derek Adams.
Former Manchester United, Barcelona and Bayern Munich striker Hughes is looking for a different approach and his first win, at home to League Two leaders Forest Green Rovers, suggested he is making progress.
The challenge now is to show it was not a one-off at Hartlepool United tonight.
One important factor, says Hughes, a master in his day of holding the ball up and waiting for support, is to get players closer to Cook quicker.
“Andy works hard for the team which sometimes goes unnoticed,” he said.
“With the way we want to play, he won’t be as isolated in the future, and I’m sure he will enjoy it between now and the end of the season.”
The balance between defence and attack was something that pleased Hughes at the New Lawn.
“Once we got a foothold in the game, we looked composed,” he commented.
“The performance was good and we made sure we defended with the right numbers against a good team.”
Alex Gilliead is a doubt after “opening up his ankle joint” but it is seen as a short-term issue.
Loanee Matty Daly has gone back to Huddersfield Town so they can look at a problem he picked up last week. Charles Vernam and Tom Elliott are both back in full training but need to build up their fitness.
Last six games: Hartlepool United DDWLWD; Bradford City WLLLLL
Referee: J Simpson (Lancashire)
Last time: Hartlepool United 5 Bradford City 0, September 3, 2013, Football League Trophy.