COLIN Cooper believes he can bring out the best in Luke Williams during the Middlesbrough striker’s loan stint at Hartlepool United.
The 20-year-old Boro boy arrived on Thursday along with fellow forward Jack Barmby, who has also joined on an initial month’s deal, from Manchester United.
Cooper has certainly come up trumps with his acquisitions since he became Pools boss.
It may be too early to judge Marlon Harewood though, on paper at least, he looks a gem of a signing.
Christian Burgess, Jack Compton, Matty Dolan and Michael Duckworth have all excelled thus far.
Cooper’s judgement looks spot on and so are his managerial skills – he knows which players need the size eight boot up the backside and those who need a box of chocolates.
And he feels he can extricate the talent which lies inside the England youth international.
“I’ve seen Luke’s talent develop over the years,” said Cooper, who worked with the youngster at Boro’s Rockliffe Park HQ.
“And a lot of other clubs would like him on loan because he is a rising talent.
“I know the player and his family and they know me and Craig [Hignett] and they know by coming here he will get an opportunity to enjoy his football and feel part of something and feel loved here.
“If you put an arm around his shoulder, you will get the best out of him.
“He is a talented young man and is in a real transitional period in his own career.
“I think it’s a massive coup for us and having been on our radar since day one, we’ve had to wait six months and Luke wants to be here.”
Indeed, Cooper has had to exercise great patience to get the player who has scored twice in 22 senior Boro appearances.
But he is thrilled to get the forward who has been capped at U17, U18 and U19 level for his country.
“Having had conversations with Middlesbrough and with Luke, it is an opportunity to make him
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feel good,” Cooper told SportMail.
“He was very keen to come and play some games.
“Since he was 16 he’s had that immediate rise under Gordon Strachan and then a levelling off.
“He’s been up and around the first-team squad ever since and I think everyone recognises his talent.
“I think the FA Cup game was a disappointment for Luke to start and then be brought off.
“I just think seeing what Aitor Karanka has done this week in sending out quite a people on loan etc I saw this as an opportunity.
“From Luke’s perspective it was an opportunity he wanted to take, he’s excited.
“As I keep saying I am interested in bringing players in players who will add quality.
“Luke has undoubted quality.”
Williams will feature in the SkyBet League Two clash with York City this afternoon along with Barmby.
The 19-year-old son of former England forward Nick has been a regular in the Manchester United development squad.
Cooper says the young duo not only have the gifts with a football, but the right attitude he is looking for from a player.
“My only pre-requisite about the players who come in on loan is that they have the hunger and desire to come and play for Hartlepool,” he said.
“I recognise they have the talent and if they give me what I want then I think it’s a win-win situation for everyone.”