NEALE Cooper joked that Luke James was “assaulted” at times during the 1-1 draw at Whitby Town – but the player himself did not mind the kicking.
Instead, the robust 17-year-old (pictured above) insists the rough-house treatment merely serves to strengthen his motivation.
James was left in a heap on several occasions during a feisty 90 minutes as former Pools defender Mark Robinson left his mark on the fleet-footed teenager.
But it takes a lot to wipe the smile from the face of the Amble-born starlet, and even when asked by SportMail about his bruised limbs, James quickly focussed on the positives.
“I don’t mind it to be honest and it just spurs me on when you’re being kicked,” he said.
“If I’m getting fouled all of the time then I’m doing something right.
“As soon as you go down you’ve just got to get back up and get on with it – there’s no point stropping about it.
“It’ll make me a stronger, player in the long run.
“The day they stop kicking me is when I’ve got to worry!”
James enjoyed his first full game of the summer against the Northern Premier Division outfit.
After an untidy start he grew into the contest and was a threat as Pools exerted their authority in the second half.
That led to a well-taken Paul Murray opener on 72 minutes, but substitute Nathan Mulligan salvaged a draw for the hosts five minutes from time.
And James reflected: “It was hard but I enjoyed it.
“It was good to get that full 90 minutes under my belt and I felt a bit stronger.
“We’re getting sharper and it’s all geared towards the start of the season.”
He went on: “I don’t think I played my best football and my first couple of touches were pretty heavy.
“But I thought I got better as the game went on.
“It was disappointing not to win but the game has done us a lot of good and sets us up nicely for Sunderland on Friday.”