Colin Cooper believes Jonathan Greening would be a “smashing” signing for Hartlepool United

Jonathan Greening in action for Hartlepool United against Middlesbrough. Picture by FRANK REID
Jonathan Greening in action for Hartlepool United against Middlesbrough. Picture by FRANK REID

COLIN Cooper believes trialist Jonathan Greening would be a “smashing” addition to Hartlepool United but concedes he has other options to consider.

The 35-year-old midfielder started in central midfield for Pools in last night’s 2-0 friendly defeat to neighbours Middlesbrough.

SportMail first revealed at the start of July that Cooper was tracking the former Premier League midfielder and the club confirmed yesterday Greening is now training with the club.

He played the full 90 minutes last night and was steady enough but Pools, as a team, failed to impress which didn’t help him.

Since being released by Nottingham Forest at the end of last season, Greening has spent the past two weeks on trial at Championship side Rotherham United but failed to win a contract.

He joined Pools on Tuesday and is, effectively, competing with trialist Tommy Miller for a contract, although he missed last night’s game with a hamstring problem.

Fellow trialist Michael Woods was also sidelined with a groin injury. Cooper admits Greening is the type of “solid citizen” he wants at Pools but admits the midfielder has other options to consider.

“Jonathan has been on trial at Rotherham and I have been speaking to him all summer about what his thoughts were,” said Cooper. “He is someone that I have known for a lot of years and I know what he can do.

“Jonathan would be a smashing addition to our club but he has other options.

“He was keen to come in and train with us though and we see where we go from there.

“Jonathan is a good footballer and very rarely gives the ball away which is something I want and over the years he has gained great experience.

“When he was younger he was a tricky winger but the one thing he has now is the ability to manipulate the ball and not give it away very often.

“He wouldn’t have any problems playing in our league.”

Cooper is hoping he will be able to play Greening and Miller in the club’s next pre-season friendly, Bradford City away on Saturday,

He added: “Ideally I would have liked to have shared the game with Tommy so I could have had a closer look at them both.

“Unfortunately, Tommy felt his hamstring in training Monday afternoon.

“He just felt a bit stiff and sore and didn’t want to make it any worse by being involved against Middlesbrough.

“If Tommy is okay, then hopefully we can have a look at the pair of them at Bradford.

“I have made no bones about the type of people and players I am looking to bring in on a permanent basis.”

Scarborough-born Greening has a wealth of experience and after starting his career with York City, soon moved up the leagues, joining Manchester United for three seasons, where he won the Champions League in 1999.

The former England Under 21 international then joined Steve McClaren at Boro in 2001 before also playing in the Premier League for West Brom and Fulham, before Greening joined Forest where he has been for the past three seasons.

Cooper has been tracking the experienced Scarborough-born midfielder for more than a year now.

The Pools manager is still looking at other options, though, and watched Middlesbrough Under-21s in action against Halifax Town on Tuesday.

Cooper added: “I had a long chat with Aitor Karanka when I went to watch Middlesbrough’s Under-21s and had a chat with Gus Poyet and Robbie Stockdale, who does the Sunderland Under 21s, last week.

“The experienced players I am trying to bring in are solid citizens, who have been around the football block a bit and want to be here and help Hartlepool get some success.

“In and around that, you try and get a sprinkling of goldust and I have seen some very exciting North-East talent this past week.

“Something a bit different, a bit clever. The one thing that young players do and you saw it [last night], they just offer you that exuberance of youth and they have the energy and the technique.

“Having spoken to Aitor, at length, and Gus and Robbie hopefully we can keep those relationships going that we had last year with both clubs.”