NEALE Cooper admits that Scott Flinders deserves better protection this season than the security he was afforded seven days ago.
The Pools boss absolved his netminder of any blame during the 5-0 opening-day defeat at Crewe Alexandra.
Flinders was left horribly exposed by his usually-dependable back four, a unit which Cooper sees as the cornerstone of his side.
And the Pools boss told SportMail today: “I had to feel for Scott a little bit.
“You couldn’t say he was to blame for any of the goals. “For one of them, the second, we had three men around the player, yet he still got his shot away and Scott was completely unsighted.
“We’ve got to put that right and protect our goalkeeper more.
“That back five has never been a worry for me, and I need them to get back to how they were for the majority of last season.”
Flinders produced what were arguably some of his best-ever performances in Pools colours during pre-season, only to ship five in consecutive games, first in the final summer friendly against Newcastle United and then at Crewe.
But Cooper knows he has one of the division’s top goalkeepers.
“Scott showed in pre-season just how good he is,” the Scot went on.
“Some of the saves he made were just out of this world.
“That is one position where we know we’ve got a top player.
“He’s got a good understanding with the lads in front of him as well and I think they feel more confident when Scott is behind them.
“Hopefully last weekend was a one-off and I’m sure it will be.”