COLIN Cooper may have gone for experience in the shape of Marlon Harewood to give Hartlepool United a crucial short-term push.
But the Pools boss and assistant Craig Hignett will tonight have one eye on the future.
The management duo plan to give some of the club’s young talent a chance to shine for the reserve team.
Pools will take on Scunthorpe this evening in the Central League Cup at Billingham Town (kick-off 7pm).
Young pros like Zac Boagey, Lewis Hawkins, Josh Rowbotham and Greg Rutherford will be in a side which also includes League Two bench men Sam Collins and Darren Holden.
But Hignett told SportMail tonight’s game would be a chance to view some of the scholars, who play for John Hewitson’s youth team.
“It’s coming around to the time when we start thinking about pro contracts,” he said. “It will be good for us to see where some of these lads are.
“We’ve not had many games for the reserves so it’s been difficult and we’ve put out some pretty strong sides.
“It’s also tricky for the players who are regularly in the reserves.
“They are desperate to play and they deserve to play regular games and that’s why we’ve been trying to arrange more fixtures for the team.
“But we do need to involve some of the older scholars and give them an oportunity to show us what they can do.”
Collins, who has been coaching the reserve XI assisted by Hewitson, will get some valuable pitch time.
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He will also be a key man on the field as Pools’ second string attempt to bounce back from the Durham Cup defeat at Consett last Wednesday night.
“The first half was good,” said Hignett. “We probably should have gone in at half-time in front.
“But the second half was not good enough.
“The lads let the match drift – Consett changed things but we did not react. Sometimes you have to change the course of a game and we did not do that.
“But that’s a learning bit for a young player.
“We spoke after the game and I gave them a few pointers.
“This week the lads have worked on things on the training pitch and hopefully we’ll see the result of that work.”