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.”