Hartlepool Utd add gifted youngsters to ranks

John Hewitson away at Wycombe Wanderers. Picture by FRANK REID
John Hewitson away at Wycombe Wanderers. Picture by FRANK REID

HARTLEPOOL United have added another gifted local youngster to the club – and taken two teenagers on trial.

Jack Blackford will progress from the Pools Academy into the Youth Team in 2014-15 while Luke Armstrong and Jon Barber will be hoping to extend their stays to a more permanent basis.

Blackford came on as a late sub on the right wing for Pools reserves on Wednesday night at Billingham Town, where the young side lost 3-1 to Mansfield Town.

The Manor College of Technology pupil was one of four members of the Pools U16 side on the bench at Bedford Terrace.

He came on for the last 10 minutes and did well – his first touch was excellent, foxing two defenders with good footwork near the corner flag and his second touch wasn’t bad as he put a dangerous low cross into the Stags box.

Blackford, whose elder brother Billy is a former Youth Team player, certainly caught the eye.

Pools director of youth, John Hewitson, who was in charge of the reserves on Wednesday night was pleased the club have signed him up.

“Jack is a Hartlepool lad and has been in our Academy system since he was nine,” Hewitson told SportMail.

“He’s a very talented boy and has the potential to progress.

“We offered him a youth team contract and he accepted so he’ll start in the summer.

“He has a lot of work to do, as every young player has, but he’s a talented player.”

Trialist Armstrong showed considerable promise up front and could easily have had two or three goals.

He was no slouch and involved in some of the best attacks and was desperately unlucky to see a second-half shot hit both posts and stay out.

“Luke has come to spend a bit of time with us after being released by Middlesbrough,” Hewitson explained.

“It is case of having a look at him over the next couple of weeks and taking it from there.

“He was unfortunate not to score, certainly in that second half when the ball hit one post and then came back off the other.

“His desire and work-rate was top class.”

At the opposite end, Barber had some good moments between the sticks.

It should be no surprise he is a promising goalie – his dad is former Darlington and Walsall stopper, Fred Barber

“Jon is registered to Bury but he’s been told he can go out and look for a club,” Hewitson added.

“He’s going to be with us for a couple of weeks to see what he’s like.

“He’s still eligible to be a youth team player so if he impresses there may be something we can do.

“He did all right.

“It was hard for him coming into a reserve game – he’s still got another year [at youth level] before he needs to push onto that sort of football.”