MATTHEW BATES has the armband, but there’s more than one player who can captain Hartlepool United this season.
Adding some real nous and experience to his ranks was important for Colin Cooper this summer. 
Pools go to Port Vale tonight in round one of the Capital One Cup, seeking a positive result after the opening day League Two defeat at Stevenage. 
Bates will lead the side out at Vale Park, one of many leaders in the ranks. 
“It’s not easy picking a captain,’’ said Cooper. “I actually heard other managers talking about the situation and how they had players in the dressing room who were all capable.
“Big Sam (Collins) has a slightly different role to Matthew, and there’s Aussie (Neil Austin), Tommy [Miller], Parns [Parnaby], Marlon [Harewood], all good experienced players with great qualities.’’
Bates has previously been a captain at Middlesbrough and Cooper added: “Matthew is leader, a natural leader and can organise himself as well as other people. That will only develop. 
“He’s 27 and by the time he hits 30, he will be a top-class captain. He has captained teams – a bit like I did – at all levels from Under-10 upwards. 
“Then, when you become a captain of a Football League team, it does have other responsibilities. He can look after his own game and will look after others. 
“I’m very happy to have four or five of them who are capable of doing the job and will lead in their own way, but he’s got the armband.’’
Cooper is still hoping to add to his squad this week ahead of Saturday’s first home game of the season. 
Middlesbrough’s Christian Burgess and Sunderland’s Duncan Whatmore and Mikael Mandron are on his list of options. He managed to sign four players last Friday, who were all involved in the defeat at Stevenage. 
“As it stands it’s the same squad for Tuesday,’’ he said. “I battered the office staff on Friday to get four players in and registered. 
“I think the supporters will like to see Michael Woods when they get to see him and we will have to see how the older players are.
“They are fit enough to go again on Tuesday if we need them.’’
One of those new recruits, Ryan Brobbel of Middlesbrough, made a positive impression at the weekend. Introduced as a late substitute the Hartlepool-born wideman was a bright presence. 
“Ryan gives you a liveliness, he will be positive and can go inside and outside an opponent,’’ said Cooper. “He has grown up in the last 18 months or so since I left Middlesbrough. He’s always been a technical footballer and being at York on loan last season has really helped him. 
“I have to say he looked lively on Saturday when he came on – as did Jon Franks, who will probably be a bit disappointed not to be in the side after a good pre-season. 
“As long as we have the options, which we have and we will have more to come I hope, we will be OK.’’
Sam Collins could be the only change to tonight’s starting XI. The centre-half played on Saturday to combat Stevenage’s physical approach, but took a whack to a hip in the second half. Neil Austin would move to centre-half, with Darren Holden in at left-back.
Vale drew 1-1 at home to Walsall in League One on Saturday. Michael Brown, a summer target for Cooper, was a late substitute, but he could start this evening. 
Pools: Flinders; Duckworth, Austin, Bates, Holden; Parnaby, Miller, Walker, Compton; James, Harewood. 


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