JACK COMPTON has been backed to rediscover his early season form, with the prospect of a run in the Hartlepool United side to come.

Andy Monkhouse suffered a hamstring strain in the opening stages of last weekend’s win over Bristol Rovers, which is likely to keep him out for around three weeks.

Compton replaced him on Saturday and played his part in victory, while enjoying a lively display in midfield.

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With Jon Franks being used more as a central striker of late, there’s a spot for a wideman in Cooper’s side and he’s confident Compton will grasp his chance following an unsettled period both on and off the pitch for the Welshman.

“Jack did well at the weekend,’’ reflected Cooper. “Go back to the Mansfield and Exeter games, a long time ago, he was fantastic.

“I brought him here and know his ability. One or two things off the pitch have stood in his way of late – a young daughter he doesn’t see very often and it’s not easy.

“It’s hard living in Hartlepool and his daughter being in Cardiff – I know that, I’m a father.

“But training and games takes precedence. He now has an opportunity to show the Jack Compton who started the season can finish in the same manner. That opportunity is there, Jack is in the team as it stands and now it’s up to him to stay in.’’ Compton is set to start Friday’s game at Oxford, as Pools look to shut the gap to the play-off zone from the now four-point deficit after Plymouth beat Chesterfield last night to jump into seventh ahead of Southend.

“He can produce what he did on Saturday on Friday,’’ said Cooper. “His contribution was very good, I was chuffed to bits and that’s what he can deliver.

“But he will be fine, absolutely fine in contributing like that and I hope he feels the world of himself after that.’’ With Compton, Franks and Antony Sweeney available in midfield, Cooper won’t be looking for reinforcements in that area, but is wary of a shortage of defensive cover.

Jack Baldwin was sold to Peterborough at the end of January, full-back Neil Austin is out for the season with a toe injury, but Michael Duckworth should be back in contention on Friday after suffering a leg injury at Northampton on February 22.

“I don’t think we need cover for Andy, but in central defence we are short in that area,’’ said Cooper.

“Centre-halves I’m a bit watchful of and the conversation I’ve had with the chief executive means I have, if the worst was to happen, three of four in line to bring in in a short space of time, but I don’t want to bring anyone in now for cover.

“If, for instance, we had an injury at Oxford on Friday night, then I would have to bring some cover in and be very active in order to get something in place before next Tuesday.’’