Colin Cooper wants to clinch a deal to keep Middlesbrough strike prospect Luke Williams at Hartlepool United until the end of the season – after tipping him to play regularly in the Championship next term.
Boro have loaned 20-year-old Williams to Pool for a month but Cooper has already set his sights on brokering a deal to keep him at Victoria Park until the end of the campaign. Along with 19-year-old Jack Barmby and experienced forward Marlon Harewood they have transformed the look of Cooper’s squad for the second half of the season and should add the goals that they need to push them up the League Two table.
But it is the exciting Williams, who Cooper has known since he was 13, that the Pool boss is particularly pleased to be working with again. He is set to spearhead Pool’s forward line as they head to Dagenham and Redbridge this afternoon looking to build on a solid goalless draw.
“I’m really pleased with the players that we managed to bring in January,” he said. “Marlon Harewood is catching up with the rest of the squad a little bit, he hasn’t really played a heck of a lot of football recently but he is getting up to speed now.
“Jack Barmby and Luke Williams are both exciting players, and I think we have already seen from Jack that he is a player capable of doing something a little bit different. He is only 19 but he has shown some really nice things.
“Luke is someone I have known since he was 13, when I was doing my B licence and we took the Middlesbrough under-13s as part of that course. Even at that point I could tell he was a talented boy.
“The opportunity to bring someone like Luke here was something that really, really excited me. He was actually one of the players that I had looked at in the summer but sometimes it is a matter of timing and I knew that part of the job with Luke was to persuade him to come here because I knew he would be a fantastic addition.
“I know Mr Karanka likes him and thinks he’s a talented player so to have him here is a coup for Hartlepool. I will be attempting to twist the arm of Mr Karanka and Mr (Neil) Bausor, the chief executive, to keep Luke here longer for the month that we have got him here for.
“I think that would be a good thing for him and it would obviously be a very good thing for us as well. He’s had his taste of first-team football but he’s been in and around the under-21s and the development squad and I think he needs a bit more than that at this point.
“He’s got a great future in the game and I think he can play in the Championship or above in the future if he develops and continues to learn his trade. We hope that it is something that we can help him with and it is obviously a bonus for us too if he scores goals and plays well and helps us to progress up the league.” Pool remain in the middle of the League Two table, slightly too close to the relegation zone for comfort but with a gap to the top seven which can be bridged if they embark on a consistent run between now and the end of the season.
They notched a creditable draw with high-flying Scunthorpe last weekend, while today’s hosts won at Rochdale despite being under pressure for long periods of the game. Cooper is braced for a confident Daggers side but has urged his team to get the basics right and give themselves a platform to notch an away win.
“We need to give ourselves a chance to win the game. I think we did that against Scunthorpe and arguably had the better chances in that game. In the last three games we have got ourselves into the position where we can go on to win these games and that is something I want us to repeat,” he said.
“If we get those basics right I think we will be OK because we have players who can score goals and create chances.”