ON the verge of a remarkable achievment, Neil Austin has been praised by his Hartlepool United manager.

With two games remaining this season, the right-back is on course to play every minute of Pools' campaign, totalling 4,440 minutes of first-team football.

Signed from Darlington in 2009, Austin missed 20 games through injury last season, but has been an ever present for 44 league games and three cup ties this time out.

He will start tomorrow against Orient at Victoria Park and Cooper admitted: "It's some achievement and one I could never have done as a player - I was always suspended! It's fantastic to play every minute of every game. He has done well for myself as well as a manager.''

And, with a right winger on his summer wish-list, Cooper is hoping for even more from Austin next time around.

"He could be even better with a good winger in front of him, someone with energy and good wing play, that would suit his game to feed someone like that but he's never had it,'' said Cooper.

"To have the right person there would improve Neil as well. Nobby (Solano) played there and he could do it on the ball. I was told that Aussie last season was one of the main men.

"A different player comes in on his side and you need help from wide players in a 4-4-2, full backs help the wide men and vice versa.

"For me, Aussie has done well and he is a good pro. If he plays the last two games, a fantastic achievement.''

Austin was shifted to left back last week in the absence of Evan Horwood, who is likely to be fit tomorrow after recovering from a leg injury.

Cooper, however with Pools' awful home form in mind, won't be using the final home game to give his teenagers a run out.

"Do we give the youngsters a chance? I want to finish well and put a strong team out,'' he admitted. "If we had done well and been winning games then we could, but it's not been like that.

"We need a win, a good performance to go with it. Things haven't been good enough, frustrating for all and it's got to be better.''

And the boss is likely to leave Luke James out of his starting XI.

"Luke wasn't great last week, I'm not sure he's fully fit after a while out, he wasn't sharp,'' he said. "He still gets treatment and manipulation on his back before he goes out.

"He's not the Luke we had in January, but he's been out eight week or so and not looked the player he was, maybe it's time to leave him out.''