Hartlerpool United relief at James Brown diagnosis

James Brown
Brown has made just 114 starts in six seasons at Pools due to injury

Hartlepool United head coach Mick Wadsworth says striker James Brown could be back in first-team action ahead of schedule.

Brown, 24, was expected to undergo surgery on a groin problem but an assessment discovered the extent of the injury was less than first feared.

"It's not as bad as we might have thought," Wadsworth told BBC Tees.

"It's not as severe and there's a good chance he'll return to training in the near future."

Since joining the club as an academy scholar, Brown has found his first-team opportunities hampered by a succession of serious injuries.

Two cruciate ligament tears on separate knees, in addition to a persistent ankle injury last season have limited the Cramlington-born forward to 114 league starts in six seasons.

Meanwhile defender Sam Collins is close to making a return following a spell on the sidelines with a calf problem.

The 34-year-old has been out since the 1-1 draw with Leyton Orient at the beginning of the month.

In his absence full-back Stephen Wright has deputised in the centre of defence but with Peter Hartley nearing a ban on four yellow cards, Pools are short of defensive cover.

"The next legitimate booking will see Peter suspended for a game, so he has to play with his brains as well as his heart," Wadsworth continued.

"I'm sure he will and I'm sure he can, so it's important for that eventuality that we get Sam back as quick as we can.

"He's improving but whether he will be fit for Saturday we're not sure yet, but he's much better than he was."