Youngster Josh Laurent admits he’s still got a lot to learn at Hartlepool United.
But he knows he could not have a better teacher than manager Craig Hignett.
Laurent has revealed that Hignett, himself an attacking midfielder during an successful career spanning 20 years, most famously at Middlesbrough, has taken him under his wing.
And the 21-year-old is loving being shown the ropes by Hignett, and assistant Curtis Fleming.
He said: “Before games, the manager and Curtis pull me aside and tell me exactly what they want me to do.
“They have been a big help for me.
“I know if I listen to what they say I will get better.
“They played at the highest level, so I know that they know what they are talking about.
“I have to be like a sponge. That’s what I feel like at the moment. I am soaking up everything, every bit of advice that they are offering me.”
Little by little, Laurent says the advice from the former Boro pair is sinking in.
The former QPR kid continued: “Every game I am learning.
“This is the first time I have had a run in a team, anywhere.
“Every day, every session I am learning something new. I try to take that with me into the game on a Saturday.
“Each game I make mistakes, but the gaffer pulls me aside and tells me where I am going wrong.
“He has helped my game massively.”
One area where Hignett is attempting to pass on his expertise is in front of goal.
Laurent is yet to open his account for the club.
In fact, he is yet to hit the back of the net outside of junior or reserve football.
“I am getting further and further away from the goal - I don’t know what has been going on,” the midfielder joked.
“It’s like I am not even getting chances right now.”
Taking a more relaxed approach in front of goal, Laurent hopes will pay dividends.
He maybe thinks he was trying too hard to score when he first broke into Hignett’s starting XI.
“I think before I was thinking about scoring way too much,” he said.
“Now I am not. I think that is the best way to be.
“Now all I concentrate on is playing well and trying to keep my place in the team.
“I am hoping that a chance just pops up.
“Fingers crossed, the ball will be about to roll across the line and I can get a toe to it, or deflects in off me.
“It is that kind of luck that I need.
“Maybe I was trying too hard before. I am more relaxed about it now.”
One thing Laurent is not relaxed about is Pools’ league position heading into tomorrow’s clash with Leyton Orient at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium.
Dropped points has been the common denominator when talking about the club in recent weeks, and Laurent says all of that has to end, starting with the struggling Brisbane Road outfit this weekend.
“We know we should be higher up the league,” he said.
“We have been unlucky with a few decisions that have gone against us, but we had gone six unbeaten until we lost last week. That shows we have been doing OK despite not having the rub of the green. I feel like our luck is about to change.
“We have proven in the last few weeks that we can challenge anyone in this league.
“And we feel like we can beat any of them, too.
“Against all of the top teams, many people thought we would lose.
“We did much better. We even played a few of them off the park.
“If we keep playing the way we have, things will turn around. I’m sure of that.”
Having played so well against the top sides, Laurent is keen for the players’ levels not to drop against one of the division’s lesser lights.
“This is the time when we cannot let our levels drop,” he said. “We have played well against all of the top teams but haven’t got the results.
“If we play well against the teams at the bottom, we should get some wins under our belts.
“But this is football - it doesn’t always work like that.
“This is the time when we need to be picking up our points.
“We cannot let our performance levels drop. If we do, in this league, anyone can beat anyone on any given day.
“And if we are not as good as we were against the teams at the top we will come up short in games we should, on paper, win.”