LUKE JAMES is happy that Marlon Harewood will still be around at Hartlepool United next season because he thinks the experienced striker can make him a better player.
James is enjoying a well earned break after his most productive season so far, which ended with him sitting on 14 goals for the campaign.
The 19-year-old, who has caught the eye of higher league clubs over the last 18 months, still thinks there is plenty more in him, though, and is already setting his sights on more next time around.
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And he thinks Harewood, the former West Ham and Nottingham Forest man who has a further year on his contract at Victoria Park to run, could play a significant part in assisting with his development as a professional footballer.
“You are always getting advice from some of the older lads and someone like Marlon is great for me,” said James, who had been working closely with Craig Hignett before he became Aitor Karanka’s No 2 at Middlesbrough.
“Marlon has been in the Premier League, the Championship, through the divisions, so he knows what it is about and what bits of movement can get you a goal. The more information you take on board the better footballer you can be.
“I was happy with my return in the end, but I would like more. When you are playing you always want more and when we start again in August I want to make sure it’s an even better year for me personally and the team.”
James’ goals looked like helping Hartlepool to a charge in to the League Two play-off places on a couple of occasions. In the end, however, his tally proved vital in Colin Cooper’s attempts to keep the club out of the relegation zone.
Having had a full season working under Cooper, James is convinced Hartlepool can significantly improve on the 19th placed finish – three points above the drop zone – which they could only boast about at the start of this month.
“It will be a good year next year, I’m sure of it,” said James. “It would be nice to do better than we have because in the end it ended up a bit disappointingly for us all. We threatened occasionally to do this or that but didn’t do those things in the end.
“For me, if you’d have offered me 14 goals at the start of the season then I would have taken your hands off. Now that I have played as much as I have I think I should really have scored more, played a bit better. I want to find greater consistency next season for me and the team.”
* Luke James was launching Hartlepool United’s new Elite Development Academy which will give more youngsters the chance to work towards their footballing dreams.
The brand new and innovative scheme will see 16-18-year-olds given the opportunity to continue their education at Dyke House Sports & Technology College, whilst also gaining access to professional football training.
Once successfully enrolled, students can look forward to working towards a wide variety of A Levels and a BTEC in Sport Science, alongside being part of the Hartlepool United Elite Development Academy. Trials for the new scholarship programme will be held in early July.
* Former Hartlepool striker Terry Bell, who was the leading goalscorer in the club’s promotion season in 1967-68, has died aged 69.