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Cooper offers right-back an opportunity
COLIN COOPER feels his latest signing can make the step up from non-league to the professional ranks without any trouble.
Michael Duckworth has been at Hartlepool United throughout pre-season, and yesterday signed a month-long contract as a reward for his efforts, with Cooper anticipating the right-back pushing Neil Austin all the way for his place.
He played for the reserves on Wednesday and, after being recommended to Cooper during the summer by his Bradford Park Avenue boss, Cooper is happy to add another young, hungry talent to his ranks.
“I don't see why Michael Duckworth can't push for a first-team place,’’ reflected Cooper, who signed Matty Dolan from Middlesbrough on loan on Wednesday.
“I saw him play for the reserves and he looks exactly what his ex-manager told me he would be – a player who is too good not to be playing league football.
“Whether he pushes now we'll have to see. He is very new to me and this level, but he has shown me that he's more than capable of coping what we throw at him.
“Can he now impose himself in league football? That's the challenge for him.’’ Cooper is also taking a look at Michael Rae, the Hartlepool-born striker who was freed by his hometown club without making a breakthrough.
He is currently with Spennymoor and Cooper will give Rae a chance to impress.
“A goalscorer is a goalscorer and that's what I'm told Michael is - I don't know as much about him as Higgy does,’’ he said.
“I watched him in the reserves and, considering he hasn't had a pre-season and has had a few days away on holiday, his movement was there to see – he wants to get into places where you might score a goal.
“So I've said to Michael that I'm more than happy to have a look at him.
“A goalscorer at any level, if you have that uncanny knack, is worth having a look at.
“Jason Ainsley, his manager at Spennymoor, has been great and has said for us to have a look at him.
“Let's put a couple of weeks' training into him and get him some games sorted and see how he does. I won’t gauge him on the reserve game the other night.
“He came in training Tuesday, played Wednesday and I’m more than happy to habe a look at him and how he shapes up and how he scored his goals. There’s no reserve game for three weeks now, so let’s try and get a couple of bounce games in to get a look at him. It shouldn’t impact on Spennymoor and if he plays, that’s up to Michael and Jason.’’
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