THE future for Hartlepool United is bright insists player coach Sam Collins.
The 37-year-old is the oldest player in the Pools camp so is well placed to reflect on the younger player’s coming through the ranks at the Sky Bet League Two club.
While Colin Cooper’s debut season as Pools manager may have ended in a disappointing 19th place finish for the team, Collins believes the younger generation will learn from that and help move the club forward.
Pools named several youngsters as part of the first-team squad for much of the last campaign including top-scoring striker Luke James, 19, midfield star Brad Walker, 18, 22-year-old defender Michael Duckworth, while younger players like Dan Jones and Lewis Hawkins regularly made an appearance on the bench.
James, Duckworth and Walker were the stand-out performers but Collins says they can all learn from the highs and lows experienced over the past 12-months.
Collins, who signed a new player coach deal in the summer, told SportMail: “The future at this football club is definitely bright with the younger players that are coming through.
“Right throughout last season everybody was aware of these young players and the talent and ability that they have.
“At times, it may have been a little bit inconsistent from them but it is a tough league to play in League Two, and they will only get stronger for that experience.
“To be fair, we had five or six lads at the club who were playing their first full season
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in professional football.
“Together we have been through some tough situations but also some really good ones as well and they will certainly get better as a result.”
The Pools stalwart admits a 19th place league finish was below par for last season’s squad, who at one point were within touching distance of the play-offs.
Only to then drop, worryingly, like a stone towards the relegation places as the season reached a climax.
Thankfully, a dramatic 2-1 Easter Monday win over Morecambe secured their league status and Cooper’ side eventually finished 19th - just three points above the drop zone.
Pontefract-born Collins though says the future is promising going into next season.
He added: “We felt we should have been higher up the league, especially with the ability that we have in the squad.
“But we can all see there is a lot of promise there and a lot of things that we can work on and get better as a group.
“From what the manager has done last season shows that he has clear plans and intentions moving forward and things are looking bright,” added Collins who will be returning to pre-season training with the rest of the camp on Tuesday, July 1.
l Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Pools will be one of the non-seeded sides when the regional draw for the first round of the Capital One Cup takes place next week.
The competition is split in to north and south sections for the first stage and the seeding system means that Colin Cooper’s men are guaranteed to be playing higher division opposition.
The draw will be made at 10am on Tuesday, June 17, with first round ties scheduled to be played in the week beginning Monday, August 11.
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