Hartlepool Utd veteran hails young FA Cup heroes after Notts Co win

Sam Collins in action against Notts County. Picture by FRANK REID
Sam Collins in action against Notts County. Picture by FRANK REID

VETERAN defender Sam Collins has praised the team spirit among the Pools camp and believes the mix of experience and youthful exuberance is helping get results on the pitch.

The 36-year-old returned to the starting line-up for the 3-2 win over Notts County in place of the suspended Christian Burgess.

The on-loan Middlesbrough defender, out for one match after collecting five yellow cards, has been in outstanding form but his presence wasn’t missed because Colin Cooper was able to turn to an experienced old hand in the shape of Collins, for only his sixth appearance of the season.

The big Number 5 played every minute and afterwards admitted he loves playing alongside the likes of Jack Baldwin, 20 and 18-year-old Luke James.

Collins said: “I love playing in this team and the lads have those young legs, that I used to have a few years back.

“They are brilliant and their attitudes are all bang on.

“It is just about guiding them in the right direction and that is coming from the gaffer and Higgy [Craig Hignett] first and foremost and then we have a few senior players in the team as well who are good pros.

“Everyone, whether they are 16, 17 or 36 like I am, is trying

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to pull together and do well together and work hard.”

Collins, who also oversees the reserve team, has had to be patient and admits it is “frustrating” not to be playing.

But the Yorkshire man said: “I think about if differently to what I did a few years ago now that I’m involved with the reserves.

“I try and help the young lads as well, we have two young centre halves who have been doing well.

“It is frustrating because I still want to play but I can handle that side of it because there is the bigger picture of the club doing well and trying to help these young lads as much as possible.”

Collins, who signed in January 2008 from Hull City, said the FA Cup win over Notts County was “tough at times” but felt his teammates handled the pressure well.

He added: “One of the pleasing things was that they couldn’t out pass us so they started knocking long balls into the box.

“We dealt with it quite well, although they did get that scrappy goal near the end.

“We were a bit nervous with 10 minutes to go, wondering if they were going to get another chance, but I thought we saw the game out well.

“We always look like we are going to score.”

And Collins sees no reason why the current run of form shouldn’t continue.

He added: “Everyone is working so hard every single day and it isn’t just the lads that are starting, it is those coming off the bench and doing well and the reserves, in my opinion, have improved massively this year.

“It started from day one with the way the gaffer and Higgy wanted everyone to play.

“Everyone has brought into those ideas, right throughout the club.”

- RICHARD MENNEAR