Craig Hignett believes Nathan Thomas can be a match-winner in Hartlepool United’s fight for Football League survival.
The box-of-tricks winger was in inspired form, again, in mid-week when he almost inspired Pools to a dream comeback against Notts County.
He’s a real threat and if we can get on the ball he can cause people problems.Craig Hignett
Pools lost 3-2 to the Magpies, a damaging result to their League Two safety hopes, but Thomas was at times unplayable.
Hignett is not the first to big up the 21-year-old - Ronnie Moore, the man who signed him from Mansfield Town last month for an undisclosed fee, not surprisingly felt the same.
But having seen Thomas have an assist on Saturday in the 2-1 win over Yeovil and then two in midweek, the new boss is keen to see more of the same - starting at Luton on Saturday.
“Nathan could be massive,” said the 46-year-old.
“He’s still only young but has bags and bags of ability going forward.
“We will work with him, he’s still got bits of his game he needs to improve on.
“But he’s a real threat and if we can get on the ball he can cause people problems.
“Whenever he was on the ball, you felt something could happen.”
Given what Hignett achieved with Luke James during his spell as assistant manager during his previous spell at Pools, he could be key too to the development of Thomas.
For all his trickery, there is one thing missing from the 21-year-old Middlesbrough-born player - goals.
Thomas’s finishing skills are way short of what they should be and Hignett will look to amend that.
“Nathan was unlucky not to score, he was in [on goal] on Tuesday night,” said the manager, who knew a thing or two about scoring in his career.
“He got in one-on-one with the keeper and the ball stuck under his feet.
“He could have a big future if he gets his head down, listens and works hard.”
Thomas was the Navigation Taxis-judged man of the match against County.
And Pools will hope he can have a similar affect on Saturday’s difficult trip to Luton.
Hignett did not blame the conditions for Tuesday night’s Jekyll and Hyde performance but, instead his team’s sluggish start which was in stark contrast to his debut match in charge.
“On Saturday, we started really quickly, but on Tuesday night we didn’t,” he explained.
“We have to learn from that.
“But the second half? If we play like that for the rest of the season I’ll be happy.”