Craig Hignett on Hartlepool United youngsters - and why they may face a battle to keep hold of them
Craig Hignett has spoken at length about the youngsters at Hartlepool United and the careers they're able to build for themselves at the club.
Hignett, who is the Director of Football at the club, believes Josh Hawkes, an academy product from Stockton-on-Tees is a great example of what can be achieved.
“He's (Hawkes) is a young lad, he's still learning his way," he said.
"He's got a lot of ability. He's still needs to learn the game, but he's got everything you need to create goals, to score goals.
"He just needs a little bit more guidance and needs to be a little bit fitter, but then you have a real player on your hands.”
Despite praise for midfielder Hawkes, Craig Hignett has paid tribute to a number of younger players within his first-team squad.
“It's not just Josh, we've got some really good youngsters," he added.
"Peter Kioso, who's done great this season. Kenton Richardson, who's been fabulous the last few games and Josh himself so we've got young lads who are all making their way in the game but at the same time playing men's football at 18 or 19 years of age.”
Bringing players through at a younger age is something Hignett believes is important in his role as Director of Football.
He said: “I think that has got to be part of your structure (bringing through young players).
"When your a club like ours, you have to develop your own players.
"If they're good enough, there's a pathway there for them.
"We want young players to see that Kenton Richardson, Josh Hawkes, Peter Kioso are playing in our team, so they know that if they do well, by coming through our academy, there's a pathway there to first-team football.”
Despite this, Hignett has also admitted that bringing through these players at a younger age may attract interest from clubs in higher divisions.
“You see lads now who are 22/23 before they play a first team game," added Pools' caretaker manager.
"These lads are going to have 50/60 games in them by the time they're 19 so people are going to be interested in them.”
This is something that Pools have already experienced first hand.
“When these players move on, like Connor (Simpson) did last year when he went to Preston, they know that there's a real career there for them”, Hignett said.
“At our level it is men's football and you're playing 50/60 games so they get a player who's far further down his pathway than a Premier League lad who's played no games and he's aged 22/23.”