Craig Harrison keeping lid on Hartlepool United box-to-box man for now

Conor Newton gets stuck in against Sunderland. Picture: Frank Reid.
Conor Newton gets stuck in against Sunderland. Picture: Frank Reid.

Craig Harrison has given the thumbs up to Conor Newton even though he has asked the summer signing to play within himself.

The 25-year-old became Harrison’s eighth summer signing and arrived with a reputation as a box-to-box midfielder.

Conor has lots of energy but we don’t want him bombing about, we don’t want to risk him getting injured doing that

CRAIG HARRISON

Newton, who has valuable experience in England and Scotland, is a man known for his energy to cover the miles every game.

However, the ex-Rotherham United, Cambridge and St Mirren star has, instead, sat in the spot between the defence and midfield.

The Geordie looked a little rusty in his first run-out at Harrogate, no real surprise given he has taken up pre-season training a little later than his colleagues.

He took a step forward last Tuesday against Sunderland and was even better in the 1-0 defeat at St Johnstone at the weekend.

“I thought he was excellent again,” said Harrison. “He had a great game on Tuesday against Sunderland.

“Through circumstances he has played in bit of a deeper role than what we are going to play him in when it comes to league games but that is just to protect him.

“He is two to three weeks behind everyone [in terms of pre-season work].

“Conor has lots of energy but we don’t want him bombing about, we don’t want to risk him getting injured doing that.

“On Saturday and last Tuesday, we’ve asked him to be more disciplined but at the same time he is getting game minutes in his legs.

“Conor was definitely a positive on Saturday but he wasn’t the only one, there were positives all round on Saturday.”

Newton played the first half at Harrogate, where he shook off the ‘ring rust’ and has played 70 minutes in both the Sunderland and St Johnstone matches.

He will doubtless feature in Friday night’s match against Middlesbrough U23, which should be a good test for him, and the entire team.

Like Harrison’s other signings, the arrival of Newton looks a smart piece of business by the new Pools manager.

Newton was schooled at home town club Newcastle United from the age of nine.

While he did not get to play a senior game for the Magpies he did learn his trade at the Academy and was loaned out to St Mirren for two years to gain experience, making over a half-century of appearances in the black and white stripes of St Mirren.

After being released by Newcastle in 2014, he had a season in the Sky Bet Championship at Rotherham, with the Millers surviving in the division.

He subsequently moved on to Cambridge United, where he made over 50 appearances before being released at the end of the season.

Newton started in the horrific 5-0 defeat Pools suffered at home to the U’s last December but did not feature in the return game at the Abbey Stadium, where Dave Jones enjoyed his sole away win as manager.

“First and foremost, he’s a good footballer,” said Harrison. “He’s a box-to-box midfielder who will get beyond the front man, he’s energetic and very dynamic.”