COLIN Cooper believes - if called upon - Jordan Richards can cement a place in the Hartlepool United first team.
Losing two right-backs through injury in the same weekend would constitute an injury crisis for most Sky Bet League Two clubs.
But thankfully for Hartlepool United, Cooper has strength in depth in that position.
And it could be needed too as hamstring injuries to Michael Duckworth and Stuart Parnaby continue to be assessed.
Duckworth missed the 2-0 win over Shrewsbury Town on Saturday after tweaking his hamstring in training the day before.
But then his replacement in the side Parnaby, had to go off after just 39 minutes, suffering from his own hamstring troubles.
Cooper was able to throw on Sunderland-born Richards from the subs bench and he performed admirably - helping the side to their first victory at Victoria Park this season.
Parnaby had only just returned to the first team squad after overcoming problems with his other hamstring, but his afternoon’s work was over before half-time.
Speaking afterwards, Cooper said the former Middlesbrough man had been feeling “good and strong” but then felt his hamstring.
He added: “We are looking at next weekend, it’s a stretch already for that.”
As things stand, both Parnaby and Duckworth are a doubt for the weekend visit of Tranmere Rovers but Cooper has no qualms about giving Richards an extended run in the side, if required.
Richards started his career in midfield but has been converted to right-back in recent seasons.
Unfortunately for him, he has found opportunities hard to come in that position ever since Duckworth signed for the club from Bradford Park Avenue last summer.
But the 21-year-old hasn’t let it get him down and his manager has been impressed with his attitude in training and in reserve matches.
Cooper told SportMail: “We’ll assess the injuries as we go along.
“If you have even torn your muscle a wee bit then this weekend is going to be a stretch.
“We will just have to see after that but we have players there to cover.
“Jordan will be disappointed not to have started [many games] because he is a great kid who works so hard every single day.
“He plays every reserve game no qualms and comes in and trains on his days off.
“Jordan is a young lad that wants to do well in the world of football.
“He did himself the world of credit again when he came on [against Shrewsbury].
“If there is an opportunity for him to get some games and cement a place then that is great for him and he deserves the chance.
“There is no two ways about that and he will probably feel disappointed he has not had many more chances.
“But football works like that sometimes, so let’s see what happens.”
Richards, who has been at the club since the age of 10, signed a new deal at Pools in the summer.
He was due to enter his option year but Cooper was keen to tie him down for a longer period.
Richards turned professional in the summer of 2011 and has since made 37 appearances for the first team.