COLIN Cooper will not limit his search for new players to youngsters from professional clubs – evidenced by the acquisition of Bradford Park Avenue’s Michael Duckworth.
The 21-year-old was recommended to Cooper by his manager at the Conference North outfit and, having won a contract following a successful trial period, the right-back has duly caught the eye in four first-team starts.
Cooper will continue to welcome such tip-offs regarding players plying their trade outside of the full-time ranks.
And one example of that is former teen prodigy Michael Woods.
The York-born midfielder was just 16 when Chelsea paid £5m to Leeds United for the services of him and team-mate Tom Taiwo.
He was released by the Blues in 2011 having made just two FA Cup appearances and subsequently failed to establish himself at either Yeovil Town or Doncaster Rovers.
Now 23, he is appearing in the Conference North for Harrogate Town – Cooper’s local team – and the Pools boss admits he could take a look at the former England youth international.
“I know Michael really well but I was unaware that he was playing for Harrogate,” he revealed.
“I took Michael Duckworth from Bradford Park Avenue and he’s come into our league team and has been smashing.
“Michael (Woods) was a fantastic young player at Leeds and then went to Chelsea.
“I’m told he’s lost his love for a football a bit but is now playing for Harrogate, so maybe I’ll have to get down to Wetherby Road and have a look.”
If so, Cooper will be hoping to witness the same qualities which persuaded him to offer Duckworth a shot at professional football.
As he went on: “What you want is players with hunger and ambition and who want to get better.
“Michael has been outstanding in that respect.
“He came in over pre-season and has continued to get better and better.
“There are players who, early on in their careers, don’t get the breaks.
“Our scouts watch an awful lot of non-league football and I watch a lot of under-21 football.
“The difference between some of the lads is that one has had the breaks and the other hasn’t.
“What you’re looking for is the football ability allied to that hunger and ambition.
“Whether that’s someone for Man United under-21s or Bradford Park Avenue, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, that’s what you want to see.”