LUKE JAMES admits he's happy to be playing a part for Hartlepool United - no matter how big or small.

After being introduced as a late substitute last weekend, the striker scored an injury-time winner over Leyton Orient to lift Pools off the bottom of League One.

While many would like to see the teenager in the starting XI, boss John Hughes is keen to nurture him, wary of burning the 18-year-old out.

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And, as long as he gets a chance, James is happy to be patient.

"I'm happy to be involved, as long as I get my time on the pitch and show what I can do,'' he said. "If I get 10-20 minutes to come on and show what I can do, then I'm happy with that.

"I've had injuries, it's every players' worst nightmare. Get over that and set your targets to get on the pitch, get game time and then score.

"It's been a bit of a nightmare to be honest. I had a hernia, got over that, and then had tonsillitis. Touch wood, I'm over my injuries now, they are in the past.''

James' dramatic goal means Pools have taken 11 points from the last 15, a run that has given some belief in their battle to beat the drop.

They go to Scunthorpe on Saturday before meeting Crewe at Victoria Park next Tuesday.

"We are five unbeaten, keep it going and who knows,'' said James. "It was a good point on Tuesday against Portsmouth, we didn't lose and we kicked on again.

"We are off the bottom and you can read the papers, it gives us all a massive lift to see someone below us.

"Now we carry on next Saturday again, but you cannot look at the table. Focus on what we are doing and push on and see what we can do. Three wins and we could be there, we are on a run so let's get those wins and get there.''

James' volley to see off Orient came from a Steve Howard knock-down and the striker admitted: "Luckily for me, right place right time. Evan (Horwood) put a good ball in for Stevie and it was set up for me, it took a deflection but it's mine.

"The gaffer basically told me to play off Stevie. A couple of times my first touch let me down, but for the goal everything went for me.

"It doesn't matter if it's a scrappy goal or a 35-yarder, the feeling is brilliant. To score so late makes it special.''

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