Neale Cooper confident the “real” Luke James will emerge after stunner against Scunthorpe

Luke James sweetly strikes the ball to put Pools into a 2-0 lead against Scunthorpe. Photograph by FRANK REID
Luke James sweetly strikes the ball to put Pools into a 2-0 lead against Scunthorpe. Photograph by FRANK REID
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NEALE Cooper believes the “real” Luke James will now re-emerge in the wake of his stunning strike which sealed the 2-0 win over Scunthorpe United.

The 17-year-old – who has struggled for form since his breathtaking arrival on the senior stage in January – came from the bench on Saturday to volley his side’s second as Pools saw home their first three points of the season.

Just 72 hours earlier James had been part of a reserve team beaten 4-0 by Chesterfield, a game in which he failed to catch the eye.

But the redoubtable rookie bounced back at the weekend, and Cooper is adamant it will be a season-turning moment for his young striker.

“As a player, and I know myself, it sometimes takes just that one moment to change things,” Cooper told SportMail.

“He’s had a really hard time lately and has had a bit of a dip.

“He’ll admit himself he’s struggled to reach the levels he did when he first came on the scene.

“He was even down in the dumps in the reserve game the other day, looking like a little boy lost at times.

“But that goal will do him the world of good.

“It was a fantastic goal as well, a great touch to set it up and a great finish - you could see his excitement when he scored and fair play to him.

“I’m delighted it was Luke who scored it, it will give him a real boost and I think we’ll see the real Luke James now.”

James had started the season as Cooper’s preferred partner for Steve Howard but was relegated to the bench following the opening-day defeat at Crewe Alexandra.

The Academy graduate had grown three inches since the end of last season, and the Pools boss believes his talented teen could still be adapting to the changes in his physique.

“It is difficult at that age because your body is changing all of the time,” he went on.

“Last year Luke was smaller and nippier and his game was getting by players.

“He’s a little bit bigger this year and is still getting used to that.

“He needs to be a little bit stronger at times and learn how to use his body.

“But the boy is a terrific talent and we saw that on Saturday.”