First-team pathway wide open for young players at Hartlepool United - Craig Hignett

For any young player, the pathway to their first appearance in the first-team setup is often the most difficult to navigate.

Friday, 24th May 2019, 7:21 pm
Hartlepool United signed Peter Kioso last summer - and he established himself as a first-team regular last season.

With so much riding on results at first-team level, more often that not a manager will be reluctant to give a youngster his chance to shine.

That is less acutely felt in the National League, where finance can often dictate whether kids get a shot, simply because clubs cannot run with scores of full-time professionals.

At Hartlepool United, under manager Craig Hignett, if you're good enough, your age is but a number.

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Last season he threw kids in right, left and centre, even when he had more senior pros sitting on the bench - and he admits he will do so again.

Hignett thinks it's a good look - he wants Pools to be known as a club where kids can shine.

"This club does have a pathway for young players to come and play first-team football," he said.

"We gave young goalkeeper Brad Young his first professional contract, which is a great reward for a young lad who has bags of potential if he keeps on working as hard as has done since he joined the club five years ago.

"Brad is a big lad and he has all the attributes to make a good goalkeeper – he has a long way to go and he knows that but it’s down to him now because we feel like he’s got a really good chance.

"There was interest in Brad from an EFL club but he has shown his commitment to us and he knows that he is closer to playing senior football if he continues his development here. We think we can improve him in the same way we’ve improved the likes of Peter Kioso, Kenton Richardson, Josh Hawkes and others."