COLIN Cooper today hailed the impact committed defender Scott Harrison has made to the team since arriving at Hartlepool United.
The 21-year-old is back on an initial month-long loan from Premier League neighbours Sunderland amid hopes that will be extended.
And Cooper cannot speak highly enough of the no-nonsense centre-half who would “head a fridge”.
Harrison’s heading is certainly impressive, one booming ball forward helped set up Charlie Wyke’s opener against Shrewsbury Town.
But he has far more to his game, including a decent range of passing, the ability to bring the ball out from the back while also putting his body where it hurts.
Cooper is more than happy to give him a run of games – along with on-loan Boro duo Charlie Wyke and Ryan Brobbel.
He said he is impressed with the partnership Harrison is forming with club captain Matthew Bates.
“All I am doing is giving these players an opportunity to play league football,” said Cooper.
“They can play at this level and have the technicality and the physicality to do so.
“Scott will head a fridge – no two ways about that.
“He does proper heading and you just don’t see people head the ball that way anymore.
“For a 21-year-old he should be overjoyed he has that ability because it isn’t in football anymore, in my opinion.
“He has good feet and can pass the ball and is calm at certain times but it is also about making good decisions at centre-half.
“What you see with Matthew [Bates] is very different, he is very calm and never gets flustered.
“He sometimes flusters me but doesn’t fluster himself and knows where he is.
“They have a nice little relationship and on the back of that we have Sam Collins in the background who helps and talks.
“Scott doesn’t have a bad group of people helping him, both here and at Sunderland.”
Harrison is desperate to do well and was always keen to return to Pools after his first loan spell at the end of last season, said Cooper.
This time around he is playing alongside the experienced figure of Bates.
Cooper added: “Despite, what other people may or may not think, Matthew Bates is a terrific player and communicates well.
“Hence why he is the captain.
“Scott is as honest as the day is long but has a real ability as well and is a tough lad that really wants to be here.
“He wants to do well and wants to be a professional footballer.
“Scott is a Sunderland player but if he wasn’t going to break through for their Under 21s to somewhere else he was really keen to come back.
“For me, that is music to my ears.”
Pools have, of course, benefited from the loan system both this season and last with Christian Burgess, Luke Williams and Matty Dolan enjoying spells from Boro, Harrison and Connor Oliver coming from Sunderland and Jack Barmby from Manchester United.
Cooper believes the value of league experience for young loan players gives those players a ”value” in the game while providing them experience.
“They will make mistakes,” said Cooper. “And Scott will make mistakes but as long as you are happy for them to make mistakes knowing that they are trying to do the right things and develop.
“That is why the loan system, in my opinion, is a valuable system for young players.”