JONATHAN Franks is ready to shoulder what he admits is a “different kind” of pressure at Hartlepool United and repay the faith of manager Neale Cooper.
The Stockton-born forward came through the ranks at boyhood club Middlesbrough, where he made his Premier League debut as a 19-year-old.
Franks made permanent his place in the senior set-up under Gordon Strachan but fell out of favour under Tony Mowbray, a situation which prompted his switch to Victoria Park when he became Cooper’s first close-season signing back in May.
And the Scot clearly has him earmarked for big things, the 22-year-old having started both games on the right-hand side of midfield during this week’s Dutch tour.
Franks is aware of the increased levels of expectancy, but insists it is a challenge he is raring to take on.
“Coming here I want to be playing every week and it’s a different kind of pressure now,” he told SportMail today.
“At Middlesbrough there was pressure because Gordon Strachan wanted the best out of you, but I was still only young.
“Here, I want to be playing every week and it’s up to me to make that happen.
“I had a little taste of that at Yeovil on loan last season and I’m ready for the challenge.”
Cooper has taken a keen interest in improving a player who is yet to fulfil the potential which saw him capped at England youth level.
And that care is something which Franks appreciates.
“It makes you feel wanted when the manager takes a personal interest in you,” he went on.
“He came up to me in front of the lads in Holland and said, ‘you’ve got to be doing better at times’ - and that’s right.
“It was only our second game of pre-season but he cares, and if there are things I can do better then he will tell me, I appreciate that and I’ll work on that.
“I’m enjoying my time on the wing and the gaffer has said that he wants to get the ball in the box as much as possible.
“I just need to concentrate on doing that and hopefully finding big Steve Howard when I do get them in.”
The trip to Holland gave Franks a chance to settle into the Pools squad and, despite rooming alone, he enjoyed the week-long stay.
“The way it worked I was in a room on my own!” he laughed.
“But that was fine and I enjoyed the trip.
“They are great set of lads.
“The togetherness is brilliant and the work ethic is fantastic.”