Hartlepool Utd’s James has worked hard for his Skybet player of the month award

James Luke.... Pic by Nigel Roddis

James Luke.... Pic by Nigel Roddis

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THE harder I practice, the luckier I get.

Eight words famously attributed to one of the world’s greatest ever golfers, Gary Player.

Luke James took up the game himself in the summer and admits he is not as good with such a small ball.

But the teenage sensation is a wizard with a football and his brilliance this week won him the SkyBet League Two player of the month award.

And the success is down to more than just talent, it’s all down to hard work.

James admits it himself and his boss, who also picked up the manager of the month award for last month, speaks in similar terms,

Colin Cooper said: “Luke is great – he wants to work hard and improve.

“Luke is a fabulous lad and it’s great to see young players who want to improve and spend extra time on the training ground honing their skills.

“He has an unbelievable work ethic.

“And Higgy deserves a huge pat on the back after spending plenty of time with the forwards on the training ground.

“It’s no coincidence we have four or five players who are scoring goals because he’s put a lot of work in with them.”

James scored three times in October, a neat flick at Exeter, a stunning individual goal at home to Plymouth and a long-range header against Wimbledon.

He saw off the challenge of Exeter wide player Aaron Davies, Dagenham goal ace Rhys Murphy, who scored in four out of five October matches and Bondz N’Gala, outstanding at the heart of the Portsmouth defence.

While thrilled to take the trophy, James said he simply felt “lucky” to be the Pools player nominated and thought he had team-mates more deserving of the “honour”.

The seven-goal top scorer said: “I honestly did not expect this at all.

“I saw I was nominated, which was nice, but I thought, if I’m being honest, that would be the end of it.

“But to have won it? I’m over the moon.

“Any of our team who have played could have won it. Fortunately for me I’m the lucky one, I’m honoured to have won it.

“It’s been a good month, we’ve won a lot of games and I’ve managed to score a few goals as well.

“Hopefully that will continue this month and beyond.”

And James has thanked the coaching staff and his team-mates for helping him win the SkyBet prize and become a better player.

“I have done a lot of hard work on the training ground with the gaffer, Higgy and the coaches, including Sam Collins, who has been helping me with my shooting practice.

“I put it down to that and the the team, that’s how I’ve won this award.

“I would not have won it without them.

“They have been the driving force, winning game after game.”

James is likely to be one of the key men for Pools if they are to make FA Cup progress tomorrow against Notts County.

The County defence is one of the worst around – only two teams in England have leaked more goals – so James should fancy his chances of helping to add to the Magpies ‘against’ column.

“Hopefully we can continue that,” he said.

“Everyone is excited by the FA Cup, it is one of the best competitions in the world.

“Everyone love the FA Cup and the upsets.

“Hopefully we can be part of that and get through to the next round.”

But would it be an upset were Pools to eliminate League One’s bottom side?

“Probably not given our form,” said.

“The lads believe that if we play well then we can give anyone a good game.

“I think the confidence will be there and I’m just looking forward to it.”