LUKE-ING UP: Pools striker hoping for big things next season

Luke James in action against Crawley Town. Picture by FRANK REID
Luke James in action against Crawley Town. Picture by FRANK REID

LUKE James admits he could be a towering centre-forward by the time Hartlepool United return for pre-season training – but the teenager hopes his growth spurts are over.

The 18-year-old grew nearly three inches in height between the previous two campaigns, returning to Maiden Castle last summer having shed his “pint-sized” tag.

But James’ physical development ended up impeding his progress last term and he missed a fair chunk of the season through injury, a double-hernia operation his biggest concern.

The Amble-born star is aware of the dangers of such rapid gain, however, and says he is aiming for a close-season of steady progress.

“You can do too much over the summer sometimes, you can come back a bit too big if you’re in the gym all of the time,” James told SportMail.

“As long as I can fill out a little bit more then I’ll be happy.

“I grew about three inches in height last summer but that’s not really a big thing for me.

“I’m happy with my height because it allows me to nip in and around defenders.

“I’m learning how to use my body more and I know my game is about getting the best out of my pace.

“Who knows though? I might be a six-footer come the start of next season.”

James ended the season on a personal high having won rave reviews for his performance during the final four matches.

He will not be letting up over the coming weeks and wants to pick up where he left off when the squad reconvene on June 24.

And he went on: “I’ll work hard over the summer.

“We’ve got our programmes from John, the fitness coach, and I’ll knuckle down with that and hopefully come back stronger and quicker next year.

“It’s football for me all the way, I’ll probably not be bothering with any other sports during the summer.

“I’ll have a holiday first, though, before getting down to the hard work.”

He added: “If you stick to the programme then you should be spot on come July.

“It involves a lot of leg work, squats and things like that, keeping your legs strong.

“As the weeks go on the programme gets a bit heavier and it keeps you ticking over.”

Meanwhile, Pools are still to announce their successor to sacked manager John Hughes.

Middlesbrough academy coach Colin Cooper is set to be confirmed and his official could yet happen before the end of the week.