COLIN Cooper believes that Steve Howard showed his worth to the Hartlepool United cause having been handed his first start of the season.
The 37-year-old led the Pools attack during Saturday’s stalemate at York City before being withdrawn just four minutes from time.
And Howard, whose days at Victoria Park appeared to be over following last season’s loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday, has today won praise from his boss.
“I thought Steve Howard showed what he can do,” said Cooper.
“I’ve been very open with his situation over the summer.
“We felt it was the right time and place and the right game to throw him in.
“And I must say I thought he did very well.
“There wasn’t going to be anything clever and complicated from them and he became a fulcrum for us in the first half.
“We were trying to play off him and he brought others in as well as winning flicks.
“He gave us 85 minutes in his first start and that is very good.
“For someone who has not had a continuous pre-season, to put in 85 minutes deserves a pat on the back.”
And Cooper is confident that goals will soon follow for the veteran frontman.
“He was part of a team performance on Saturday and he’ll get better for it,” he went on.
“Soon he will get himself in a place to score goals but on Saturday he was there in attack and defence for us.
“We need to read his flicks better and gamble on them, but I thought it was an encouraging performance.”
Howard could have had a spot-kick inside the opening 10 minutes when he was felled after a penalty-box surge, the man in black ruling the offence to have taken place on the fringe of the area.
And the official failed to spot what appeared a blatant scythe on James Poole later in the half, leaving Cooper to reflect: “I thought James was certainly fouled.
“He made a great run and the centre-back was stretching.
“When he went to make contact with the cross he was pretty much cleaned out.
“I didn’t see the one with Steve as much but it looked a good penalty shout.”