MATTHEW Bates has hailed the impressive impact of Charlie Wyke - Hartlepool United’s very own ‘Dimitar Berbatov’.
The 21-year-old striker is currently on a month-long loan deal from Championship neighbours Middlesbrough and has so far managed to score twice in three starts for Colin Cooper’s side.
Former Boro defender Bates knows Wyke from when he was still playing at the Riverside.
The club captain has likened him in style to Berbatov - the former Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Fulham striker now plying his trade in France with Monaco.
It isn’t an obvious comparison but Bates believes Middlesbrough-born Wyke and the Bulgarian share similar traits.
Goalscoring being one of them.
So far Wyke has netted against Wimbledon away, on his second debut for the club, and in last weekend’s 2-0 home win over Shrewsbury Town.
He connected well with a Jack Compton cross in the 5th minute to send Pools on their way to their first three points of the season at home.
It is certainly a different Wyke from the one supporters watched during his first spell on loan at the club two seasons ago.
He made 26 appearances in the 2012-13 League One campaign, scoring twice, but he was in his teens then and playing in a struggling Pools side.
But the 21-year-old is confident he has developed into a more rounded player and Bates certainly agrees.
The 27-year-old told SportMail: “Charlie was a bit young when I was at Middlesbrough but he trained with us.
“We used to call him the cheap man’s Berbatov because he played in that way.
“He is very laid back, good on the floor but good in the air as well.
“Charlie was outstanding at Wimbledon and is a good addition to the squad.
“He was good away to Cheltenham as well, he was in a losing side but didn’t deserve to be.”
This is Wyke’s third spell out on loan, twice at Victoria Park while he also enjoyed a three-month spell at League Two side Wimbledon last year, scoring twice in 17 games for the Wombles.
Bates has been impressed with his development, both technically and physically.
As captain he said it is important to have characters like Wyke around the dressing room and in the team on match days.
He said the young striker is clearly enjoying his second spell on loan at the club and the team are benefiting from it.
“Charlie has put a bit of bulk on and he has been working hard and is a good character around the place,” added Bates who played for Bristol City and Bradford City after leaving Boro in 2012.
“You need players like that because one bad character can upset the dressing room.
“But he is not one of them and I’m sure he is enjoying his time here playing football and we are enjoying having him.”