Jake Gray hoping to carry on scoring when Hartlepool United visit Mansfield Town

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Jake Gray will be hoping to carry on shooting and scoring when Hartlepool United visit Mansfield Town on Saturday.

The teenage Crystal Palace prospect was the Pools match-winner on Sunday when Leyton Orient were beaten 3-1 at Victoria Park.

I’m an attacking player and the manager has encouraged me to get forward when I can

Jake Gary

Pools now visit sixth-placed Mansfield – nicknamed the Stags – where Gray will not be short of confidence or ambition.

The 19-year-old midfielder has scored nine times this season, seven for Crystal Palace Under-21s and his televised weekend double against the O’s.

“It is probably my best goal-scoring season so far,” he said.

“I’m happy with my play and every time the goal is in front of me then I’m not going to pass up the opportunity to have a go.

“I’m learning every match and adapting quickly.

“I’m an attacking player and the manager has encouraged me to get forward when I can.

“Playing a two in [centre] midfield, I can’t keep going [forward] all the time and leave us vulnerable.

“I need to be clever and choose when I go forward.

“It seems to have gone all right so far but I need to make sure I get back.”

Gray has featured on the bench for Palace this season but believes his move to Pools and two starts to date is progressing his game.

He was lively against Cheltenham on his debut and sensational against Orient.

“It’s quite a difference [to Under 21 football],” he said. “You are up against big men, who are strong and are chasing you down.

“I like the hustle and bustle.

“Last week against Cheltenham, I held onto the ball a second too long and a player came through the back of me so that lets you know you need to be sharper.

“That definitely makes you quicker but when you do have time on the ball you need to take it.

“It is a big difference but I love it.”

As Gray told SportMail on Monday, he is happy at Pools and wants to remain as long as his two bosses, Ronnie Moore and Palace head coach Alan Pardew want him to.

“I’d love to stay,” he said. “ I’m happy playing men’s football at the moment, I’m learning all the time.

“I feel as though my game is improving, it’s really competitive, and I’m benefiting from that.

“I’m happy to stay for as long as the manager wants me.”