MICKY Barron believes Jack Baldwin is ready to make an impact for Hartlepool United this season.
Supporters enjoyed their first glimpse of the 18-year-old during Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at home to Colchester United.
Baldwin played the full 90 minutes in central midfield on what his first-ever professional outing, catching the eye with an assured display which belied his tender years.
Barron introduced the Kent-born starlet in a bid to breathe fresh life into his side, but the caretaker coach believes he is already good enough to remain in and around the first-team picture.
“There’s no reason why Jack can’t stay in the team based on his performance on Saturday,” the 36-year-old told SportMail having also handed a debut to 17-year-old Luke James.
“I thought he was terrific, as was Luke in the second half.
“We just thought Jack would give the crowd a lift – seeing a young lad coming through – and bring something else to the team, which I thought he did.
“He came in and was steady. He got on the ball, won his tackles and headers and competed really well.”
Baldwin’s elevation to the senior set-up has come just six months after signing from non-league Faversham Town.
He has been a regular for Barron’s reserves this term and previous boss Mick Wadsworth had named him among his substitutes on three occasions.
And Barron says Baldwin has been a pleasure to work with since moving to the North-East over the summer.
“Ever since he came to the club on trial in pre-season he’s been absolutely brilliant,” he said, with Baldwin set to keep his place in the squad for the Boxing Day trip to Oldham Athletic.
“His attitude is first class and he’s a great lad to work with.
“His technique for a player who hasn’t been at a professional club is good.
“I think he’s got everything you need to be a very good player.”
Baldwin arrived at Victoria Park as a centre-back but Saturday’s bow came in the middle of midfield.
And Barron believes that is where his immediate future lies.
“He’s played centre-back, in central midfield and at right-back and he’s comfortable in all of those positions,” he went on.
“He’s strong, he’s quick and he can pass a ball.
“I honestly don’t know what his best position will be but for the time being I think he’ll play midfield for us this season.”