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Cooper praises his find
OVER the past three games, Hartlepool United’s front men have taken their share of plaudits.
In winning at Mansfield, Sheffield United and Exeter, Pools have scored eight times as they have ran the opposition ragged at times.
With back to back home games to come, Colin Cooper has slapped a few words of warning across his players’ bows to make sure the replicate their away form at Victoria Park.
While Jack Compton, Luke James, James Poole and Co have done their jobs going forward, equally so have the defence.
Pools have only conceded one goal in those victories – and that a penalty.
Michael Duckworth has been a constant in the back four, and the right back has been a consistent figure since signing for Pools.
He spent pre-season on trial at Victoria Park and has competently made the move from Bradford Park Avenue to the professional game.
Exeter marked his tenth appearance for former York City trainee and Cooper has been delighted with his discovery.
“Michael has been very good, he’s stepped up into league football seamlessly and wants to learn, want to get better,’’ he mused. “He has a lot to learn, but has proved in the short time we’ve had him is that there are a lot of gems still out there. People at our level rightly should keep looking to find players like that.
“When we brought Michael in we were impressed straight away with his ability to handle the ball, what he’s showed on top of that is that he is a tenacious so and so, doesn’t like getting beat and has a tremendous leap.’’ “And at Sheffield United in, I think the 87th minute, he went on a surging 70 yard run down the touchline and me and Craig looked at each other and realised he’s got something else to his game.’’ Duckworth’s arrival has meant a switch from right back to left for captain Neil Austin and both have shined in their roles.
“Quite rightly Michael deserves every bit of credit,’’ added Cooper. “At 21 as long as he wants to keep learning and improving he will be OK.
“He came here in pre-season and I’d like think that he’s had a professional pre-season behind him which set him in good stead. Credit to him for what he’s been doing and he looks the part. There’s no other way about it, it’s been a seamless transition from non-league, Conference North to League Two and it shows sometimes players can slip through the system.
“I feel he’s got a decent career in front of him.’’ Pools take on Plymouth at Victoria Park tomorrow, where they have yet to hit top form.
While performances have, by and large, been positive, results have not been good, with just one League Two victory and four defeats.
Now it’s about taking their away form back home.
“We’ve had a good week, it’s nice for the players to get pats on the back for the way they played, but if we are to progress, the only way to do it is to do the hard things,’’ said Cooper, who will have the luxury of having everyone in his squad available tomorrow.
“The hard thing is to go on a little run, not lose your next game, and any kind of run – winning or drawing – gives you confidence.
“Again this weekend is about progressing and backing up good results with good results and we have an opportunity to do that.
“They are feeling good about themselves at the moment, they have had a couple of good performances and seem to have found a system that suits them.
“If they bring that we won’t know until kick-off, but if it’s working for them then they could.
“We have been to that area of the country three times this season and they said that getting their point last weekend in the so-called “Dockyard Derby” with Plymouth will make their trip to the Hartlepool a better one.
“We have to make sure that the things we talk about when we go away from home and travel a long distance doesn’t work for them.’’
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