CHRISTIAN Burgess is enjoying playing at the heart of Hartlepool United’s defence alongside his new – but not so young – partner Sam Collins.
Essex-born Burgess and Jack Baldwin had formed a formidable pairing at the back for Pools for the majority of the season before Peterborough United swooped on deadline transfer day.
Since Baldwin’s move to the Sky Bet League One club, Colin Cooper has paired Burgess, 22, with 36-year-old veteran Collins, the only other recognised central defender at the Clarence Road club.
And what a partnership it has been – with three out of four clean sheets and just one goal conceded since Baldwin left for pastures new.
Burgess and Collins had already played together a couple of times this season before Baldwin left so it isn’t so much a new partnership.
But it is certainly one reaping rewards for Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett at the moment.
The younger of the two defenders says the transition period has been seamless so far and he has praised the old hand for his defensive qualities, and calming presence at the back.
“Sam has been brilliant,” said Burgess.
“We played with each other before, at the start of the season and he has come off the bench a couple of times and done really well.
“One thing you know about Sam is that he is solid, wins all his headers, is strong, experienced and he will talk you through the game.
“He is very reliable in that sense and it has been a pretty easy transition really since Jack has gone.”
The on-loan Middlesbrough defender doesn’t believe there is much difference between former Hull City defender Collins and Baldwin, 16 years his junior.
“Sam is a seasoned professional so you might say Jack is a bit younger and has a bit more flair in him,” added Burgess.
“But Sam can do everything really well.
“He is calm on the ball, can bring it out and has a sensible head on him and is solid but so was Jack.
“I’m not sure there is much difference.
“Sam can be more of a talker mind, and does talk you through the games and it is good to have him there and I enjoy playing with him.”
Collins has taken over the captain’s armband in the absence of right-back Neil Austin, who has missed the last three games with a troublesome toe injury.
Burgess, meanwhile, has wished his former partner well at his new club, Darren Ferguson’s Peterborough United.
Burgess and Baldwin are both from Essex and formed a strong bond on and off the pitch when the history student signed on-loan from parent club Middlesbrough in the summer.
While their partnership on the field may have come to an end, their friendship remains strong and Burgess was one of the first to wish the 20-year-old well at his new club, following the £500,000 transfer.
“I spoke to Jack straight after he signed for Peterborough and wished him all the luck,” said Burgess.
“It is a great move for him and we are all looking out for him and hope he does well there.
“But you have to carry on and can’t miss someone or think about it to much – just get on with it and Sam has come in and done really well.”