Hartlepool United places up for grabs says Craig Hignett

THE MEN IN CHARGE: Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett on the sidelines. Picture by FRANK REID

THE MEN IN CHARGE: Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett on the sidelines. Picture by FRANK REID

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HARTLEPOOL United’s young guns have been urged to give first team boss Colin Cooper a selection headache by starring for the reserve team.

That was the message today from assistant boss Craig Hignett ahead of tonight’s Central League match against Hull City at Billingham Town (kick-off 7pm).

James Poole served a reminder of his talents in last week’s 2-1 second string victory over Scunthorpe where he scored a super goal.

Cooper turned to Poole on Saturday when the League Two match against Oxford United was not going to plan and the 22-year-old produced a man of the match display.

Hignett says it is up to the young players to dazzle when they are sent out tonight by Sam Collins, who will again be in charge of the reserve side for the second consecutive Wednesday.

“If they impress then they are in with a shout,” Hignett told SportMail.

“It’s up to them to go out and show what they can do and go and grab a place

“They all have ability and it’s down to them to go and perform in the reserves

“The challenge is there for them – play well and give us a headache.”

The evidence is there for the young professionals that if they catch the eye of the Pools management then they could earn an opportunity.

That was proven by the emergence of Brad Walker over the summer.

The Billingham teenager shone to such a degree that he won a first-team jersey in pre-season and then refused to relinquish it.

Walker only ‘lost’ his shirt because of injury, with the 17-year-old missing the last three outings in League Two.

The 17-year-old yesterday came through his first training session since recovering from his ankle problem, but will not feature tonight at Bedford Terrace.

“It was good to see Brad training again, but this match has come too soon for him.”

There will also be no place for skipper Antony Sweeney who has not been considered for this evening’s visit of the Tigers.

Nialle Rodney, Darren Holden and Andy Rafferty who were unused subs against Oxford will start though at Billingham.

Zak Boagey, scorer of a beauty in the first reserve victory of the season seven days ago, will also play, along with Greg Rutherford, who had chances against the Iron.