JOHN Hughes admits Hartlepool United have a pair of “special” teenagers on their books.
In the form of Jack Baldwin, 19, and Luke James, 18, Pools boast a duo who have long since attracted attention from England’s top division.
Hughes is keen to play down such speculation, no doubt hoping they remain at Victoria Park ahead of next season’s League Two campaign.
But, when pressed on the talented two, the Scot concedes they could one day grace a higher plain.
“They are a couple of special young players – they have big futures in front of them,” he told SportMail today as Pools continued their preparations for Saturday’s season finale at Crawley Town.
“It will be their attitude which tears them apart though.
“To have such an enjoyment and appreciation of what you do is a massive thing, both of them have that.
“But I’m also determined to keep that expectation off them.
“I want them to go and play their football.
“I want them to enjoy it, keep on playing with a smile on their face.
“I want them to learn by mistakes because, at that age, it’s okay to make them.”
It was Baldwin and James who combined to produce Pools’ goal during Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Brentford, the latter firing home for his second of the season.
James has been an inspiration in recent weeks having been deployed as a lone frontman.
And Hughes believes such isolation could well suit the academy graduate.
“Maybe Luke is best as a one-man striker with no-one else getting in his way,” he said.
“He certainly covers enough ground for two.
“There are parts of his game we’re working on but at the moment that role suits him.”
Baldwin, meanwhile, continues to shine in the centre of midfield.
The player himself believes his future lies at the heart of the defence, but Hughes is happy to see the youngster developing his game in the middle of the park.
“Jack in that midfield wants to be in a battle and he wants to get stuck in,” he said.
“He’s learning the game no end in there right now.
“His composure for one so young is excellent.”
Meanwhile, Pools reserves take on Gateshead this evening at the Hetton Centre, Hetton-le-Hole (kick-off 7pm).
Micky Barron is expected to name a young side for their final match of the season.