Hartlepool Utd’s very own Little & Large

Luke James and Steve Howard discuss tactics. Picture by FRANK REID

Luke James and Steve Howard discuss tactics. Picture by FRANK REID

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LUKE James is ready to be the “little man” to “big man” Steve Howard – even though the striker admits he has grown three inches in height over the summer.

The 17-year-old looks certain to start the season at Crewe on Saturday as Neale Cooper’s preferred partner for target man Howard.

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The duo have been paired in the last four matches, showing signs of promise despite a return of just one goal between them.

But James insists it is a combination which can flourish and the teen star is hoping to nail down his place beyond just this weekend.

“I need to get back to the level when I first came in, because I’ll admit towards the end of last season I wasn’t that sharp,” he said in recognition of his stunning introduction to senior football back in January.

“I need to nail down a starting place in the team now.

“Last season was a dream come true and I never really expected it to be as good as it was.

“It went so quick and I’ve now had a little bit of time to take it all in.

“But now I have to fight for my place and I hope I am the little man who plays off Steve.

“He wins nearly everything in the air and he even gets direction on them, so it’s up to me to read that and try to take advantage.

“It would be great to play up front with him because I think I’ll learn so much.”

However, the big man, little man partnership doesn’t exactly ring true given James’ close-season growth spurt.

“I’ve grown a few inches and I feel stronger,” he revealed.

“It might take a little bit of time to adjust to my own body changing.

“I want to put weight on, but not too much.

“My game is all about being quick and getting away from defenders, so I don’t want to slow my game down.

“My programme over the summer was designed to help me get bigger and I think it’s worked.

“It’s also designed to help me hold the ball better and the stronger I am the more time I will have on the ball.

“I need to find my scoring touch again as well, but I’m sure that will come once I get my first.”