Hartlepool Utd welcome on loan pair from Sunderland

Connor Oliver
Connor Oliver

HARTLEPOOL United’s latest recruits have been welcomed to life in Sky Bet League Two by captain Sam Collins, writes RICHARD MENNEAR.

Colin Cooper managed to add two new faces to his Pools squad before the close of the emergency loan window last Thursday teatime, Sunderland duo Scott Harrison and Connor Oliver.

The pair were not in the squad for the visit of Cheltenham Town on Saturday as they played the night before for Kevin Ball’s Sunderland U21 side away to Manchester City as part of the loan arrangement.

Instead Harrison and Oliver joined up with the Pools camp for the first time at Maiden Castle on Monday morning.

Collins admitted their arrival has been a “welcome boost” as the players prepare for a final assault on the remaining six League Two games.

Harrison, 20, is a central defender while Oliver, also 20, is capable of featuring in either defence or midfield.

Cooper has clearly stated the pair were signed predominantly as cover, in case of injury or suspension to defenders Collins and Christian Burgess or midfield enforcer Simon Walton.

But Collins says new faces and fresh legs are always welcome and hopes it will have a positive impact ahead of the club’s away trip to fourth-bottom Portsmouth FC at Fratton Park on Saturday.

“It is always good to have a couple of new faces around the place,” said Collins.

“That will give everybody a boost and that is really important because we want to go to Pompey on Saturday and get a good result.”

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Cooper has also been looking forward to working with the pair, who he has watched on several occasions this season.

Speaking earlier this week he added: “They both have good technical ability, are physical and worthy to be put in the team at any point between now and the end of the season.”

Collins, meanwhile, has also welcomed Cooper’s move to extend the loan deal of Manchester United forward Jack Barmby until the end of the season.

The lively 19-year-old has scored three spectacular goals in 12 appearances since signing on an initial month-long loan deal back in January.

Collins, a former Hull City defender, believes Nick Barmby’s son has a lot of talent but said he, like other younger players, would benefit from being more consistent.

Barmby has predominantly played in the Number 10 role, behind the front pairing of Marlon Harewood and top scorer Luke James, but has struggled at times to dominate matches.

In Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Cheltenham Town, he was hooked after an hour but Collins has backed him to maintain his performance levels.

Collins added: “Jack, like you find with a lot of the younger players, does really well at times and then may have a drop in performance.

“The gaffer is right in what he says though, that as long as they learn not to have those dips in form all the time, then they will be okay.

“As you get older you need to get to a certain level of consistency if you can.

“The young lads at the club will learn from that and will only get better.

“They are a really talented bunch that we have at the club.”