NEALE Cooper has challenged Nathan Luscombe to prove to him he has a future at Hartlepool United.
The 22-year-old only figured once under the Scot, earning a start for his first home game back in charge in early January.
He was substituted on the hour mark during that 2-1 defeat to Scunthorpe United and hasn’t been seen anywhere near the first-team since.
Cooper was not impressed with Luscombe’s contribution against the Iron and stated on several occasions that he wanted to see more from the talented midfielder.
But that reaction was not forthcoming and the former Sunderland trainee spent the remainder of the campaign in the reserves.
The Pools squad will report back for pre-season training at Maiden Castle on July 9 and Cooper expects to see a fit and firing Luscombe.
“If Nathan wants a future here then that’s up to him,” sounded Cooper.
“I’ve told him ‘come back in a good state of fitness and you’ll have a chance’.”
There has long been question marks over Luscombe’s fitness and weight issues.
But one thing not up for debate is the ability which made the Gateshead-born star one of the region’s best young talents during his time at the Stadium of Light.
And Cooper went on: “Nathan has let himself down and he knows that and admits that.
“But there is definitely something there.
“It’s up to him to come back and prove something to me.
“He’s a good player and I want to see that.”
Luscombe signed for Pools in May, 2011 after a successful trial period under Mick Wadsworth.
However, he reported for pre-season training overweight only to impress during the summer friendlies and work his way into first-team contention.
He scored his only goal for the club in the 2-0 win over Exeter City in September but finished the season having made just three starts.