NEALE Cooper is “excited” ahead of his summer rebuilding job at Victoria Park – and already has his eye on two Middlesbrough stars.
The Pools boss has had to make do with the players he inherited since returning to the club in late December and that has been a source of frustration for the Scot in terms of improving the goal threat.
Only Ryan Noble – match-winner at Yeovil Town at the weekend – has arrived, but Cooper believes the core of a “very good” side is already in place at the Vic.
With League One safety now assured, the 48-year-old is allowing himself to cast one eye to next year and the potential for close-season recruitment.
And already on his radar are Boro pair Jonathan Grounds and Jonathan Franks, both currently on loan at Saturday’s opponents Yeovil.
Grounds, 24, played the full match against Pools, while Franks, 21, watched from the stands with the Glovers only able to name five of their seven loanees in the matchday squad.
It’s likely that defender Grounds, a former youth-team colleague of Gary Liddle, will be released from the Riverside in June after five years with the club, while forward Franks’ future is also uncertain after failing to make a first-team breakthrough under Tony Mowbray.
And Cooper today told SportMail: “If everything is still fine, and I’m still here, then I would like to bring in players who I feel could strengthen the side – that’s the exciting part.
“We can build something here. There’s some players who, added to, can make a very good team.
“I like the lad Jonathan Franks, who couldn’t get on the bench on Saturday.
“I also thought Jonathan Grounds did well, he was comfortable, strong and athletic.
“So I’ll keep looking because it’s an important time coming up and there’s areas we have to strengthen once the season ends.
“But, like I said, there’s a very good core here.
“And that good core, thankfully, is the players who are under contract.”
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