Hughes highlights critical run

Young goalkeeper Karl Darlow will be Nottingham Forest’s number
one for the foreseeable future.

Darlow was recalled from a loan spell at Walsall by boss Alex
McLeish and then handed his full league debut for the club against
Peterborough, helping McLeish gain his first win since taking over
at the City Ground.

Darlow got his chance after McLeish informed long-time number
one Lee Camp, whose contract is set to expire in the summer, that
he could leave Forest this month.

McLeish had previously stated that the 22-year-old would play
while he searched for an experienced keeper to replace Camp.

But after signing Khalid Al Rashidi this week, the Scot revealed
that Darlow and the Kuwait international will battle it out for the
number one spot.

“The only keeper coming in will be Khalid, we have successfully
secured a work permit for him,” said McLeish.

“He will be back-up to Karl Darlow until he acclimatises, then
it will be a big fight between the two guys.”

Edu has signed a deal with the Turkish outfit after making only
one first-team appearance for Stoke – as an 80th-minute substitute
– since joining them from Rangers in August.

Referring to the United States international on Thursday, Pulis
said: “He has come in and not got any games.

“That has been disappointing for Maurice and he needs to play
games, to maintain his opportunity of playing for his country.

“So the club (Bursaspor) has come in and it is a decent club. We
have had offers in England as well for Maurice to go and play, so
he has got one or two options, which is good.

“Having bought him, and then for him to have then not gotten
into the team, we can actually monitor him now for the next three
or four months.”

Meanwhile, reports have suggested Swansea – who take on Stoke in
Saturday’s Premier League clash at the Liberty Stadium – have had a
?3million bid for Potters striker Jones rejected.

That is something Pulis was more reluctant to speak about at his
press conference to preview the trip to Wales.

Asked about Jones, the manager said: “If there is going to be
anything done with another football club, we will do our business
with the football club.

“If we sell Kenwyne, then I will speak to you about it. If we
don’t sell Kenwyne, then I will speak to you about it, and then you
can ask me why we did one or the other.”

Jones, recruited by Stoke in 2010 for a then-club record
?8million from Sunderland, has enjoyed some form after coming back
into the first XI in December in place of Peter Crouch, who had
injured his mouth in a collision with Newcastle’s Fabricio
Coloccini.

The Trinidadian has started every league game since, scoring
four goals in all competitions, including one as a substitute in
Tuesday’s 4-1 extra-time FA Cup third-round replay victory over
Crystal Palace.

And while cagey on the issue of keeping or selling the
28-year-old, Pulis did admit it would be a “big decision” for him
to make over whether or not Jones would start on Saturday.

Pulis said: “It will be a big decision, and that is not because
of whether he is going to Swansea or not – it is just about whether
or not I think it is right to start him.

“He did brilliantly the other night when he came on, a bit like
Cameron (Jerome, who also scored).

“He really changed it for us and sometimes it is really nice to
have those people on the bench.”

Pulis is set to recall goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and midfielder
Charlie Adam, both of whom he rested on Tuesday, for the Swansea
match.

Andy Wilkinson came off against Palace due to a back problem and
is a doubt, as is fellow full-back Ryan Shotton (hamstring), while
winger Jermaine Pennant has returned to the Potters early from his
loan spell at Wolves but will not feature at the weekend.

Defender Marc Wilson, out since breaking his leg in October, is
back in training but not yet ready for selection, nor is midfielder
Rory Delap (calf).

Hammers manager Sam Allardyce lodged a ?2million bid for the
Swede, which was turned down flat.

Although Allardyce had insisted he was not prepared to increase
the bid, it is thought a further offer may be on its way.

However, Olsson remains a Rovers player for now, with Appleton
insisting the 24-year-old will not be allowed to leave on the
cheap.

“Nothing is happening at the minute,” said Appleton.

“I was made aware of a bid that was put in before I took the
reins but it is way below the value we see him at.

“Until a bid reaches the valuation we think it should be, there
is not a conversation.

“Martin continues to be a Blackburn player.

“He is a fantastic player, an international with bags of talent,
and I am looking forward to working with him.”

However, with Olsson hoping to leave Ewood Park this month, a
transfer does seem likely eventually.

Indeed, Appleton believes a certain amount of movement would
actually be healthy for a club that desperately needs to kick-start
their season if they are to stand any chance of reclaiming their
top-flight status.

“We have a couple of weeks left,” he said.

“As with any football club, some players will leave, others will
come in. But a few new faces will do the club a world of good.

“It will bring fresh competition, but it has to be players who
will affect the starting XI, not the 18.”

Hughes, who replaced Neale Cooper as boss in November with the
club rooted to the foot of League One, has won only one of his
first nine matches in charge, but with draws at Walsall and
Shrewsbury and three defeats by a single goal, the Scot remains
upbeat about his side’s chances.

Pools, 12 points adrift of safety with 20 games remaining and
with only two wins to their name all season, will now play five of
their next seven fixtures at Victoria Park, starting on Saturday
with free-falling Colchester.

“This next month is massive,” Hughes said. “There’s no point
hiding from it now. We have to stand up and be prepared to take it
on the chin. We have been working towards this and have to start
turning unlucky losses into draws and unlucky draws into wins.

“We have to be spirited. It’s a great time to play Colchester.
We have to jump on them and use their situation to our
advantage.

“Colchester will be lacking in confidence, but we can’t get too
carried away. Let’s make sure of a home win. We’re more than
capable of beating them.

“This period could be our turning point and we’ve spoken about
that and about turning Victoria Park into a fortress like it was
not too long ago here.

“The more experienced players here have already spoken about how
other teams used to fear coming here. We always used to make it so
difficult for visiting teams to take something, even if the team
wasn’t playing well.

“I’m not one for making excuses, but in three or four games
since I’ve been here – against Stevenage, Preston and Oldham – we
should have taken something, if not, we should have won them.

“And this is what we’ve been working hard at, getting to the
stage where we can start to pick up the results that could get us
going.”