Matthew Bates has the chance to help get Hartlepool United back in the Football League - having come agonisingly close to saving them from the drop last month.
Bates yesterday became Craig Harrison’s second backroom appointment at Victoria Park.
Just hours after unveiling Bernhard Hirmer as goalkeeping coach, the Pools boss named the experienced defender as his first-team coach.
Harrison intends to appoint an assistant boss in the next couple of weeks, but Bates will coach the National League side, as well as managing the reserve team. The 30-year-old will still be registered as a player but coaching will now be his main priority.
Bates came within a whisker of keeping Pools in the Football League last month when he was asked to lead the ‘gang-of-four’ following the sacking of Dave Jones.
The former Middlesbrough star headed an interim management panel with club captain Billy Paynter, conditioning coach Stuart Parnaby and head physio Ian Gallagher.
Bates & Co almost pulled off a late escape, leading Pools to a dramatic come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Doncaster Rovers live on Sky.
Unfortunately, relegation rivals Newport struck a last gasp goal to beast Notts County by the same score to condemn Pools to the drop out of the Football League for the first time in their history.
But Bates certainly impressed in the two weeks and two matches he had in charge.
He, together with his colleagues, got a reaction from the players which Jones and his staff failed to do.
Bates enjoyed his stint and admitted he would be interested in pursuing a career in coaching and now Harrison has handed him that opportunity for the 2017-18 season.
And he was dressed in his tracksuit yesterday when he assisted Harrison and Hirmer on the first day of pre-season training at Durham.
“It’s a new role for Matthew,” Harrison told SportMail. “He will be first-team coach and the reserve team manager.
“He wants to go down that route and this is an ideal opportunity for him.
“Matthew knows everyone and everything at this club and he will be a good sounding board for myself and the new staff.”