LUKE JAMES has been hailed by boss Craig Hignett, as key to Hartlepool United’s improving fortunes.

The striker has been incessant in his level of performances of late, his constant harassing of defenders and the opposition a big factor in Pools positive outlook.

He earned a penalty against Dover on Saturday – the sixth he’s won of 14 for Pools this season.

James will start up front tonight at AFC Fylde as they look to continue their upward curve.

Hignett said: “Luke is brilliant for us, he does more than a job and I won’t sit here and bang on about how good he is because managers would want him.

“It’s not about goals, it’s what he gives us with the rest of his game. He’s good around the place and effective in what he does – chasing, running and epitomises what I want to see in a play.

“He keeps going and going and you see it in him when he gets kicked, he just gets up and gets on with it and he helps others with the work he does and the way he attracted people towards him to give others space.

“His role cannot be under-estimated at all.’’

James scored at Sutton ten days ago, but that was only his third of the season. It’s a statistic that doesn’t concern Hignett.

“Luke’s game isn’t about goals, and I didn’t get him as a goalscorer,’’ he reflected. “I took him for him as a lad and how he is – I have 100 per cent trust in him because he will never ever let you down and those players are worth their weight in gold.

“Some players think they are better than that after a big move, but that’s not him. He does what is asked of him and will follow instructions, he trains well and is great around the place – there’s not many like him in football and I feel lucky we have got him.

“He’s been called up for England C and people know what he does – a real handful. With his attitude and personality he deserves success. He’s been around forever, but only young still and learning and loads more to come from him.

“We have a young team and I want to go with young players and I need players who want to learn – we don’t want players who come here with the attitude that they know it all.

“I want players who will come here for a few years, learn and develop and move on to play higher. ‘’