COLIN Cooper admits he would love to see Matty Dolan back at Hartlepool United – but accepts the midfielder needs to discover if he has a future at Middlesbrough.
Pools were fully expecting Dolan to extend his loan spell at Victoria Park ahead of tomorrow’s home game with Rochdale.
But Boro, and their new boss Aitor Karanka, want to have a look at Dolan and other fringe players first-hand before their contracts expire in the summer.
The midfielder has impressed of late for his home-town club and made 25 appearances in all competitions, scoring twice.
“I thought we had a deal in place where Matty's loan would extend. But that has not happened and I am going to have to take that on the chin,’’ admitted Cooper.
“Aitor Karanka has not had the opportunity to watch them with his own eyes. They will be able to assess Matty over a period of time is how it was described to me
“As much as I would loved to have kept him, at the end of the day, we were only loaning him.
“Mr Karanka will look at him to se if he has a future at Middlesbrough but from Matty's point of view it is something he'll want to do, he's been at the club since he was nine.’’
Pools have kept centre-half Christian Burgess on loan for the second half of the season after an impressive first five months.
“Christian is a different kettle of fish, he's got another year left on his contract,’’ revealed Cooper.
“What they are saying is that they want to view Matty day to day in training and in a couple of Under 21 games.
“Then they will assess what his future may or may not be at Middlesbrough.
“He's more than welcome to come back here if that doesn't work out - he knows that and Middlesbrough know that.’’
Dolan’s absence means a recall for Simon Walton in midfield tomorrow. He was left out of the side at Chesterfield on Boxing Day in place of Bradley Walker and sat out the next two games.
Cooper added: “Simon was disappointed to lose his place when Brad came back into the team.
“I'd like to think he'll be champing at the bit to play against Rochdale.
“Simon has had a good season for us, and if he was disappointed then rightly so.’’
Walton and Walker started the season together in midfield before the latter suffered an ankle injury and Pools then landed Dolan.
“Him and Simon played together earlier in the season and Simon really helped to drive him on,’’ he added.
“How Brad and Simon perform together now is vital for us moving forward in 2014. If anyone comes in or not, those in the team have to show how badly they want to be in the team. As a pair, I thought they complimented themselves quite well.
“Simon helped him and nurtured him through the early games. Brad is a confident, 17-year-old player who has enjoyed stepping up to the arena to play. Having watched Rochdale play, I’m sure him and Simon will have a good challenge in there and one they can look forward to.’’
Cooper is hoping to improve his squad this month and admitted he lining up deals that could come off shortly.
“I've a couple of things on-going that I'm waiting on which probably won't be in place for the weekend,’’ he said.
"We are looking to try and improve things that are already here and they only way to do that is to get players in who will go straight into the team and improve it.
"If it happens, then positive, great and we have the possibility of two players coming into Hartlepool who will improve it. If it doesn't happen then we use the rest of the month and beyond to look at ways to improve. We aren't trying to isolate anyone or force anyone out, it's about getting better.
"This group have worked very hard in mine and Craig's time here - all we are trying to do is improve things.''

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