A week away from the season and Pools are short

Bradford return: Pools defender Matthew Bates goes back to his former club this afternoon

Bradford return: Pools defender Matthew Bates goes back to his former club this afternoon

First published in Sport The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

AHEAD of their penultimate pre-season friendly, Colin Cooper has stressed the need to strengthen his Hartlepool United ranks.

Pools go to Bradford today – a younger XI are at Spennymoor on Monday evening – with their League Two opener at Stevenage a week away.

Cooper hopes to field midfielders Tommy Miller and Jon Greening in tandem today, but it remains to be seen if they start.  Greening is also being courted by other clubs, while Miller missed the midweek game with Boro because of a hamstring strain.

“Me and Jonathan had a chat about this week and I would have liked to have seen him and Tommy Miller in there together. If he is OK for Bradford then we will hopefully have a look at them together,’’ he said.

And Cooper added: “I make no bones about it, I want some players in.

“I had a long chat with Aitor Karanka when I went to watch Middlesbrough Under-21s this week, and also spoke to Gus Poyet and Robbie Stockdale at Sunderland. If I can get a couple in permanently.

“I want solid citizens who have been around the block and bit and who want to be here and help Hartlepool have some success. And added to that you want some gold dust as well.

“Speaking to other clubs, hopefully we can keep the relationships going we had last season with both Middlesbrough and Sunderland.

“We lost four players, Simon Walton and James Poole were only in their mid-20s but experienced. Add to that Antony Sweeney and Andy Monkhouse and we have lost some more.

“Matthew Bates and Stuart Parnaby have experience and are better than the ones who left and I will continue to try and improve those here.

“We are into pre-season and some of the younger players look leggy, I hope they will find their spare for the season.’’

Cooper is a former Bradford coach and caretaker boss. Pools have lost their last three friendlies and he said: “This is a great game for us and I know what kind of game we will be in for.

“It’s a challenge for us to match their game and physicality and they have a certain way to play and play some decent football ourselves in the right area area. Let’s play in their half at times and against Middlesbrough we didn’t do that enough the other night.

“We all want momentum, but three weeks of the transfer window to go when the season kicks off means there’s scope for additions.

“You want to get off to a good start and we have a  good test on the opening day at Stevenage. Bradford will be a good test for us too. We want to get in their faces a bit more and take that into Stevenage.’’

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