NEALE Cooper has every sympathy for back-up goalkeeper Andy Rafferty – but he will not be allowed to leave on loan this season.
Instead, the Pools boss has told the 24-year-old – who signed a new deal at Victoria Park this summer – to continue to learn all he can from No.1 Scott Flinders and goalie coach Andy Collett, while keeping himself primed should the call come for a starting role.
“It’s a difficult life being a number-two goalkeeper,” admitted Cooper today.
“He came to see me a few times last year about going out on loan, but that’s difficult when you have just two goalkeepers.
“In a perfect world you’d carry three, but finances just don’t allow for that.
“So in the meantime he’s just got to learn as much as he can from Scott and Andy, because to watch them three train together every day is fascinating.
“They go about their work so meticulously that you can’t help but learn and improve every single day.”
It is the presence of Flinders which has kept Rafferty’s senior involvement to just two appearances.
He made his debut in last season’s FA Cup defeat at home to Stevenage when his first job was to scoop the ball from the net after Flinders was sent off for a foul in the penalty area.
But he didn’t concede during the remainder of that game or the subsequent 2-0 win at Scunthorpe United.
And Cooper went on: “I hear that Andy came in last season and did very well.
“He’s still young and has a lot of potential.
“I’m delighted to still have him here.
“But we have Scott, of course, who is a fantastic goalkeeper.
“He’s one of the best at this level and is obviously our first choice.
“But you never know in this game, and all it takes is an injury or suspension and you could get a run.
“So Andy has to be patient while still working hard, which I know he will because he’s a very good professional.”