Colin Cooper would love return of Hartlepool United loan stars

POOLS BOSS: Colin Cooper watches the game against Exeter City. Picture by FRANK REID
POOLS BOSS: Colin Cooper watches the game against Exeter City. Picture by FRANK REID

COLIN Cooper insists he would love to see the return of several loan players who impressed at Hartlepool United last season.

Pools’ first team squad was bolstered this campaign by on-loan Middlesbrough defender Christian Burgess, Sunderland duo Connor Oliver and Scott Harrison and Manchester United forward Jack Barmby, who all enjoyed impressive spells.

Middlesbrough forward Luke Williams also lit up Victoria Park during an impressive month-long loan spell.

And the Pools boss believes all of the loan stars have been a credit to their parent clubs.

So much so, that he “wouldn’t hesitate” in having any of them back when the pre-season preparations get into full swing in July.

Since taking over the reins at The Vic, Cooper made a conscious effort of strengthening the links with North East neighbours Sunderland and Middlesbrough, in particular, and the Sky Bet League Two club has benefited from that with some impressive and consistent displays.

Central defender Burgess excelled at the back, turning out 46 times alongside Jack Baldwin and Sam Collins, before injury curtailed the 22-year-old’s season in the final few matches.

Due to financial restrictions Pools have had to rely heavily on the loan market and bringing in younger players, with Oliver and Harrison both aged 20 and Barmby just 19.

Barmby, the son of former England international Nick Barmby, shone at times scoring five quality goals after joining from the Red Devils in January, while Harrison slotted in well alongside Collins at the back for the final five matches.

Holding midfielder Oliver had to be a little more patient but finally made his first-team debut in the final few matches.

Despite finishing the campaign in a disappointing 19th place, there was plenty of positives from the younger players and Cooper says that is likely to be the case for Hartlepool United going forward.

Cooper, 47, told SportMail: “It has been a season of youthful endeavour.

“I accept that will still continue and we will work with the young players and try to add better players around them to make them even better.

“I’m very pleased with the kind of young player that Hartlepool produces.

“But I have to say that the lads we have had on loan this season from Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Manchester United have all done themselves and their football clubs a great deal of credit.

“I wouldn’t hesitate in having any of them back here next season.

“But what I also have to do is try and cement the players that are here, to make them better and make them more hungry.

“It is fair to say that this football club has stuttered and stalled for a number of years now and that has to stop.

“My job is to try to find answers and solutions in order so that does stop.”