PROUD Sam Collins has hailed the performance of his young stars despite seeing his side go out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
Pools had been given a bye into the second round and they failed to progress any further after going down 2-1 to Sheffield United at Victoria Park last night.
While the result may have not been what the caretaker manager wanted, the performance certainly was.
And Collins – who admitted he had already selected his side within 10 minutes of chairman Ken Hodcroft asking him to step in on Saturday night – has praised the performance of his younger players.
Collins, who is also in charge of the reserve side at the club, handed starts to left-back Dan Jones, 19, and midfielders Lewis Hawkins, 21, and Kieran Green – and they all excelled.
It was the first time this season the reserve team players had been handed starts, while Connor Smith, 17, also came on in the second half and impressed during a cameo appearance.
“I am really proud of the players,” Collins said speaking afterwards.
“I spoke with them before the match and I just said what I have learned since I have been at this club is that the fans expect players to give everything that they have got.
“Effort, determination, work hard, make tackles and I thought everyone of them did that for me.
“I didn’t want to lose the game but to see the fans reaction at the end was good, I understand them and know how they think.
“I have worked with the young players for a long time and they are honest, hardworking and desperate to do well.
“As soon as I was asked I knew who I wanted to play.
“I know what they are capable of and the future looks good.
“There was a lot of positive signs, not just from the younger lads but the senior pros as well.”
In particular, Collins was impressed with the performance and work rate of 17-year-old Green.
Collins revealed: “When I told Kieran he was playing he came and gave me a hug and said thank you.
“He reminds me of myself when I was younger, all he wants to do is play football.
“He loves training and even on his days off, he asks “Sam can I come in and train?” No I tell him, you have to rest.
“Kieran is infectious and he just loves football.
“After the game he came up and said thanks to me again, he loves this football club and just wants to do well.
“He is desperate to be a football player and I love the kid.”