ON THE surface, Paul Johnson's loan spell at Darlington couldn't be viewed a resounding success.

In eight appearances since moving from Hartlepool United, the centre-half has yet to win a game, Quakers have been relegated from the Conference and the 20-year-old has also been sent off.

But there's more to loan spells than results and, from Pools' point of view, the loan spell at The Northern Echo Arena can be a big benefit next season.

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Johnson has a single League One game to his name, almost 12 months ago as Pools ended their home season with a 2-2 draw against Bournemouth.

Now Cooper hopes when he returns to Victoria Park after Quakers' Conference season concludes this weekend, Pools will reap the benefits.

"The whole experience will be good for him - he's a great boy, a very good centre-half,'' said the Pools' boss.

"Does he stay here when we don't have many reserve games left or does he go and play and get the experience of playing for Darlington?

"They are struggling, but it's a great experience for him - apart from being sent-off at Lincoln the other week. Oh, and we don't let him wear their training kit when he's at our place over the road from theirs!

"This will do him good, we hope he has a big future. The whole deal can toughen him up mentally as well. He can only benefit from it.

"At our club, you are talking about the future with Paul. Sam Collins and Peter Hartley have been excellent and there's Jack Baldwin as well. Nathan Buddle has a chance and we have just signed him on a professional contract, put Jonno into the mix and we are strong there.''

And, while Darlington's future remains uncertain, Cooper and Pools are hoping to build relationships with the North-East's Premier League and Championship clubs.

After a positive meeting with Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray last week, Cooper is hoping to do similar with Newcastle boss Alan Pardew and Sunderland's Martin O'Neill.

Pools have taken striker Ryan Noble on loan from Wearside and Cooper said: "It's so important to have a good relationship with the other clubs around us. That's something we want to push in the summer and work on. They are teams around us with a lot of good quality players.

"If they have players to put out on loan then can they come to a nice club here, a good club which will give them a chance on their doorstep.

"It would be nice to have closer bonds with them all. They can pick up the phone and see if we would be interested in having a look at a player.

"There's Carlisle as well who would like the same type of player as us and they have had a few over there, but we are closer to the three bigger clubs.

"The people I know at the clubs who I have spoken to since I got back have been good to speak to and I'd like to think we have a good relationship.

"Ryan is enjoying himself here. I watch things like that and know how important it is.

"He joins in the banter and it's like he's been here a long time, which is good for us as well as him.

"I've seen boys arrive at clubs who the others don't take to, but Ryan is well liked and he is doing a job for the team - everyone can see what he brings.''