COLIN Cooper has enjoyed a knack of unearthing a young gem or six during his time as Hartlepool United boss.
Whether it has been a permanent signing like Jack Compton or Michael Duckworth or a loan deal, like Christian Burgess, Matty Dolan or Luke Williams then Cooper has played a blinder.
You can also throw in the promotion of Brad Walker from youth team to First XI as another inspired move.
And Cooper appears to have come up trumps with Sunderland defender Scott Harrison.
Signed along with fellow Black Cats prospect Connor Oliver as cover, the 20-year-old centre-half was soon needed after a season-ending ankle injury to Burgess.
Harrison made his debut as a late sub at Portsmouth and has started subsequent games against Chesterfield, Burton and Morecambe.
In each of his first three games he showed glimpses of his talent but on Monday, it all came together in a magnificent display alongside the super-human Sam Collins.
“It has taken a couple of games to get used to it,” the Middlesbrough lad told SportMail.
“On Monday everything has gone well.
“I felt I could have stopped their goal if I’d dropped a bit but other than that I was pleased.
“Monday was unbelievable, all the lads were class.”
Harrison admitted it is quite a step, going from the Barclays Reserve League to League Two.
“The physicality is the main difference, you are playing against strong men every week,” he said.
“Every team seems to have a big, tough striker.
“The playing style is different, there is more passing in the Under 21 League.
“In this league, sometimes the ball just has to go.
“You are taught to play from the back [at Sunderland] and I have quite a good long pass and I get told to use it.
“That’s basically what I’ve tried to do here a couple of times.
“The gaffer here encourages you to play when the pass is on, but stresses to take no risks either.”
Harrison has benefitted enormously from playing alongside Collins.
The 36-year-old was a major help to both Jack Baldwin and Burgess this season and is now playing the teacher role superbly alongside pupil Harrison.
“Sam is really good,” he said. “He is constantly talking.
“He’s very experienced, he’s been there and done everything really, so I’m enjoying learning from him.
“It’s good to play alongside someone like that rather than a player of a similar age who is learning as well.
“It’s been brilliant here, not just because of Sam, all the lads have been class.”
Talking of class, Harrison believes Oliver will also prove his worth in the Pools side.
The 20-year-old defensive midfielder is set to come in tomorrow at Plymouth for the suspended Simon Walton.
Oliver has made one appearance to date, a late sub outing against Chesterfield, where he showed up quite well.
“Connor is a really good player, he can play the ball out and his range of passing is class,” said Harrison.
“If someone is making a run, he can see it early.
“He can settle things down as well if things are getting a bit manic.
“He can play but he can put his tackles in.”
Just like Harrison.