VETERAN defender Sam Collins has been hailed a “fantastic mentor” by one of Hartlepool United’s young defensive stars.
On-loan Middlesbrough defender Christian Burgess says him and defensive partner Jack Baldwin have bennefitted from the experience of Collins who gives them useful tips on how to handle troublesome forwards.
Burgess, 22, has been in impressive form since arriving at the Sky Bet League Two side in the summer from Championship side Boro.
He is also keeping veteran defender Sam Collins out of the team but the 36-year-old Yorkshire man is helping his younger colleagues come to terms with life in the lower leagues.
Essex-born Burgess said: “Sam has been brilliant, he really has been helpful.
“That is great because obviously you don’t know what it is going to be like when you come into a new side and their is real competition for places, which is good.
“But Sam has been a fantastic mentor and he has helped us deal with things that we may not be comfortable with, on the physical side of things.
“He has also given us a lot of advice about strikers who he has played against a number of times.
“He will come up to us in the changing room and say ‘this striker likes to do this’, which is brilliant.
“I can’t thank Sam enough really.”
Burgess has formed a formidable partnership alongside Baldwin, 20, at the back for Pools and he is enjoying playing alongside his team mate, who also hails from Essex.
The 22-year-old said: “We are both from Essex so we have a little connection.
“Jack is a really good player and will go on to great things in his career and hopefully I will be able to follow him.
“It has been good to have him there alongside me.
“We have moulded and bonded together and I think we have an understanding there.
“He is more experienced than I am at this level and has done well to carry me a little bit but he has been really good this season and hopefully it carries on.”