SAM Collins and the rest of his Yorkshire car pool soon had the measure of teenage trialist Jack Baldwin.
Only this time, it wasn’t the usual damning assessment of the latest young hopeful trying to make his way in the game.
On the contrary, Collins, as well as travelling buddies Neil Austin, Andy Monkhouse and Scott Flinders, thought that Baldwin – the 18-year-old southerner on trial from non-league Faversham Town – was a bit special.
They were right.
Within a year, Baldwin, having won a contract with Pools last May, has established himself in the first-team squad and will tomorrow line up alongside Collins at the heart of the defence for the trip to Colchester United.
“I remember Jack coming in on trial about a year ago,” recalled the skipper, “You get a lot of players come in on trial and we’ve been about long enough to know if they’re any good.
“Within a couple of days the lads I travel with were saying ‘this lad has got a bit about him’.
“We noticed that straight away and it was no surprise when we took him on.
“He’s a good lad as well, he wants to work hard and that helps.
“He’s just got to keep his head down and hopefully he’ll have a long career.”
Peter Hartley’s suspension means that Baldwin will partner Collins at the Colchester Community Stadium.
It will be just the second time they have been paired together, the young-and-old combination enjoying a clean sheet during last month’s 1-0 win at Yeovil Town.
And Collins went on: “Jack’s done brilliantly this season.
“He’s come on leaps and bounds since the summer and just keeps getting better and better.
“He did well at Yeovil at centre-back and I’m looking forward to it, I like playing with him.
“It’s good to play with young players – you can help each other.
“He just looks a natural at the back and I think that’s where he’ll end up playing.”
Collins’ usual sidekick, Hartley, serves a one-game ban tomorrow having been sent off during last weekend’s defeat to Sheffield United.
His dismissal came just five minutes from time when he slammed the ball into the turf following the soft award of a free-kick, enough to earn him a second yellow card for dissent.
And Collins said: “Peter was just a bit frustrated, even with his booking in the first half.
“It (the second foul) was never a foul, he was just too strong for their lad and brushed him off it.
“But you can’t do what he did and he’s disappointed with that.”