HARTLEPOOL United’s pre-season friendly with Middlesbrough could well feature several transfer targets of new boss Colin Cooper.
The 46-year-old was last week unveiled as successor to John Hughes at Victoria Park, arriving from Boro’s youth academy.
Cooper has already signalled his intention to source the best young players from the region’s big clubs with a view to arranging loan moves.
And, given his knowledge of the players on Teesside, his former club is sure to be his first port of call.
Pools-born trio Bryn Morris, 17, Matty Dolan, 20, and Ryan Brobbel, 20, are knocking on the first-team door at the Riverside and will no doubt be on Cooper’s radar.
They, like many of Boro’s promising youngsters, should be involved with the senior set-up over the course of the summer friendlies, one of which was yesterday confirmed as a trip to the Vic on Saturday, July 20 (kick-off 3pm).
And Cooper believes he has left behind a talented crop of academy players.
“The last two lots of 16-year-olds have been the best the club has had for a while,” he said.
“We’ve already seen four under-18s jump to the 21s this year and two have made first-team debuts.
“I firmly believe there will be a few more come through from the group I had last year.”
Morris has already made his first-team debut, while Brobbel and Dolan – a target for Pools last season – will be hoping to make an impression when pre-season training resumes.
They have all progressed through the academy at Rockliffe Park, and Cooper says Boro’s youngsters are afforded the very best grounding.
He went on: “Nothing changes at Middlesbrough.
“The philosophy is the same and the expectations of the staff towards the young boys is the same.
“I talk about high standards and professionalism and the quicker you get that into young players the more chance they’ve got to succeed.
“A lot of the stuff they have at Boro is the best of the best and the players have to respect that.
“But I’m really buoyed by the facilities up at Maiden Castle.
“Middlesbrough Football Club will always be in my heart but it’s time to move to the next level and I’m looking forward to working with the young players we have here.”