COLIN Cooper was today expecting a much tougher test for his Hartlepool United side against Bradford Park Avenue as his preparations for the new season continue.
Fresh from their 9-0 midweek rout of Billingham Town, Cooper’s first team squad travelled to Bradford for their second pre-season fixture at the Horsfall Stadium (KO 3pm).
Park Avenue finished 10th in Conference North last season and the Pools manager knows his players are in for a tougher challenge against the side managed by his friend John Deacey, who Cooper played with for Harrogate Veterans.
Pools will be captained by right-back Michael Duckworth, who joined the Sky Bet League Two side form Park Avenue last summer following a recommendation from his former manager.
Cooper told SportMail: “This will be a really good game and a good test.
“I have mentioned many times that John is a terrific man, who has a really nice brand of football that he plays in Conference North.
“I am looking forward to the game, looking forward to catching up with John and it will be a nice occasion for Michael too, playing in front of the club we brought him from last summer.
“They finished 10th in Conference North last season so they’re a decent side so we’ll need to expand on what we did against Billingham Town and hopefully get better.”
While Duckworth was today leading the team out, Cooper has confirmed he is still yet to make a final decision on who will be his captain going into the new League Two campaign.
Teenage midfielder Brad Walker was wearing the captain’s armband against Billingham, and Cooper said the Billingham-born star was surprised to get the honour.
He capped off his display with a goal.
“I haven’t made any decisions on the captaincy and that is the brutal truth,” Cooper told SportMail.
“Brad was captain against Billingham Town because he is a Billingham boy and it was brilliant when I told him, he just looked at me and said “really? You’re not joking?
“Then to do what he did was brilliant – the boy is only 18.
“It was nice for him and great to get a goal as well but Michael will be carrying the armband when we go to Bradford.”
Cooper was today expected to hand starts to trialists Eugen Bopp and Biko Bradnock-Brennan, while Tommy Miller and Michael Woods, who are both training with the club could feature.
John Deacey admits Pools will provide “stiff opposition” for his side, adding that he is looking forward to seeing right-back Duckworth.
Deacey said: “I recommended him to Colin Cooper who is a good friend of mine.
“He’s been fantastic for them and it will be great to see him again.”
Tickets cost £10 for adults, concessions (over 60s) £5, students (on production of NUS card) £5, Under 16s are free and armed forces personnel (on production of warrant card) also free.
l Visit www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk for team news and a full-time match report from the Horsfall Stadium and follow the action live via @HPoolMail and @RMennearHMail on Twitter.
l HARTLEPOOL United have confirmed their squad numbers ahead of the upcoming 2014-15 season.
New centre back Matthew Bates has chosen to take on the number 4 shirt for the new season, while Colin Cooper’s other signing of the summer, Stuart Parnaby, will wear number 12.
The club’s latest professional Josh Nearney has been given number 22.
Left-back Darren Holden has taken the number 3 shirt, while 18-year-old midfielder Brad Walker has moved in to number 8 while Jack Compton takes over the number 11 shirt, after the departure of Andy Monkhouse.
Star striker Luke James will retain the number 33 shirt ahead of the opening Sky Bet League Two fixture, away to Stevenage on Saturday, August 9.
1 Scott Flinders
2 Neil Austin
3 Darren Holden
4 Matthew Bates
5 Sam Collins
7 Jonathan Franks
8 Brad Walker
9 Marlon Harewood
11 Jack Compton
12 Stuart Parnaby
13 Andy Rafferty
16 Josh Rowbotham
18 Lewis Hawkins
19 Jordan Richards
20 Dan Jones
21 Michael Duckworth
22 Josh Nearney
33 Luke James