Craig Harrison is excited by the promise shown by Tomi Adeloye – but is not getting carried away just yet.
Hartlepool United signed the 21-year-old on a short-term deal last month following a successful trial period.
A knee problem early in his stay rather hindered his progress towards the first team but following his recovery from injury and impressing on the training field at the Riverside in Durham, he has broken into the National League squad.
Adeloye made his debut as a sub in the 0-0 draw at Boreham Wood and looked superb on his first run-out at Victoria Park on Tuesday night, when he replaced Devante Rodney on the hour against Halifax Town.
The former Charlton Athletic and Millwall trainee had a deflected shot saved by keeper Sam Johnson early on and was denied at the death by the Shaymen’s stopper.
Adeloye showed great footwork to fashion an opening only to see Johnson pull off an incredible save.
Harrison is pleased by the progress of the Sidcup-born forward who will be on home soil today when Pools are in South-East London to take on Ebbsfleet.
“Tomi did well on Tuesday night,” said the manager.
“He has done well in training and then had a knee injury which did not clear up as well as we’d have liked.
“Tomi had a couple of weeks full training and he’s been involved at Boreham Wood and had half an hour on Tuesday.
“He affected the game and brought a spark when the game was possibly in danger of petering out.
“He took his opportunity.
“Jack Munns did well too when he came on in the second half, maybe not as long as Tomi but he did well.
“I’m in a privileged position to bring two players of that attacking quality off the bench.”
After doing his football schooling in South East London, Adeloye’s potential was spotted by Stoke City who signed him for their Development squad.
The striker scored twice in eight appearances for their U23 side before having a sequence of short-term spells at various non-league sides, Macclesfield Town, Chelmsford, Dover Athletic, Welling, Altrincham, FC United of Manchester and St Albans.
Adeloye caught the attention of Harrison and his coaching staff with a hat-trick in a behind-closed-doors friendly with Bradford City last month.
He looked good against the Shaymen in midweek, linking well with his fellow forwards and the midfield.
But Harrison urged a note of caution for the player, whose deal ends at the turn of the year.
“We’re still in November, half an hour doesn’t mean you’ve made it,” said the former Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace defender.
“Tomi was fabulous on Tuesday and has looked good in training.
“He has put himself in a good position to get game-time.
“At the end of the day he will be judged in game time and now he needs to kick on and the challenge is to get in from the start.”