Hartlepool Utd star to complete ever-present season at Charlton

Neil Austin uses all of his strength to keep a Leyton Orient striker at bay. Picture by FRANK REID

Neil Austin uses all of his strength to keep a Leyton Orient striker at bay. Picture by FRANK REID

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NEALE Cooper has promised not to scupper Neil Austin’s ever-present record bid.

The 29-year-old defender has completed every kick of every match so far this season, a remarkable 4,320 consecutive minutes of football.

There had been talk of Cooper shuffling his pack towards the end of the campaign and blooding one or two of the youngsters who last month signed professional forms.

But the Pools chief says Austin, pictured above, is safe to see home his history bid at Charlton Athletic this weekend.

“It’s some achievement,” said Cooper.

“I don’t think I could have done it as a player myself – I was always suspended!

“To play every minute of every game is fantastic and I hope he completes it.

“He’s a very good pro and had done very well for me. I suppose that shows because he’s played every game.”

One of Cooper’s first jobs this summer will be to bring in a right-sided midfielder to partner full-back Austin.

And that, feels the Scot, would be a major help to the Barnsley-born stalwart.

“To have the right person there would improve Neil,” said Cooper.

“Nobby (Solano) played there earlier in the season and he could do it on the ball.

“But if a different player comes in on his side then you can get help from wide players in a 4-4-2 – full-backs help the wide men and vice versa.

“I was told that Aussie last season was one of the main men and although he’s been very good this year, he is still probably capable of more.”

Should Austin play the full game at The Valley, he will become the first outfield player since Tommy Miller in 2001 to go through an entire campaign without missing a minute.