SUNDERLAND prospects Scott Harrison and Connor Oliver won’t be kept back from making their Football League debuts.
They joined up with Pools on Monday for training and will be part of the squad heading to Portsmouth today for tomorrow’s League Two game.
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“They have settled in smashing,’’ said Cooper. “We had an 11 v 11 game in training on Tuesday, when I wanted everyone to be able to open up on a big pitch because a lot of our work is done in smaller areas.
“Watching them on a big pitch just re-iterated what I thought – that they are both good footballers.
“Both can handle the physicality so if they are called upon I have no qualms about putting them in the team.’’ Harrison moved to the Academy of Light after making seven appearances for Darlington in the Conference, taken to Wearside by ex-Quakers’ coach Craig Liddle.
He’s appeared in the Sunderaland first-team squad on a couple of occasions, but, with Christian Burgess one booking away from a twogame ban and midfielder Simon Walton in the same situation, Harrison and Oliver are in Cooper’s thoughts.
Pools are still affected by injuries, with Marlon Harewood (ankle) missing tomorrow and Andy Monkhouse not ready for a return from a hamstring strain. Antony Sweeney (hamstring) and Neil Austin (toe) are out for the season.
“We have two players on nine bookings and with the injury situation, we are quite thin on the ground bodies,’’ reflected Cooper.
“So they are one booking, one twist or knock from probably getting half a dozen games in.
“If they don’t play for me they will play for Sunderland Under-21s but they could end up in the Pools first team.
“I said to them if they impress me enough they’ll get in the team, that’s what they are here for.
“I’ve seen them play at Sunderland but development football and Football League are two completely different things.
“The thing which pleased me about them in this game is that they had the desire – they showed they can handle the physicality.
“I’d have no problem playing them in League Two and I’m sure they’d do themselves and the club justice.’’