Hartlepool United’s hot teen stars Hawkins and Rowbotham hailed by boss Neale Cooper

Josh Rowbotham tries to break free in the midfield against Walsall. Picture by FRANK REID
Josh Rowbotham tries to break free in the midfield against Walsall. Picture by FRANK REID

NEALE Cooper is confident Lewis Hawkins and Josh Rowbotham will forge successful careers at Victoria Park – but is mindful of pitching them into his first team too soon.

The two 18-years-old were handed surprise starts for the weekend trip to Walsall with Pools stretched to the limit because of a mounting injury list.

Lewis Hawkins keeps close control of the ball against Walsall. Picture by FRANK REID

Lewis Hawkins keeps close control of the ball against Walsall. Picture by FRANK REID

Senior debutant Hawkins played for an hour while Rowbotham, thrown an 11th-hour start following the pre-match withdrawal of Sam Collins, made way 12 minutes from time.

“Josh and Lewis can have an impact in the long term, for sure,” Cooper told SportMail today as the hunt for emergency-loan reinforcements intensified.

“Saturday was a learning curve for them. “It’s hard to come in and make that step up from reserve team football, but they did well to handle the pressure.”

Read full article, plus all the latest from the North East football scene, in today’s Sportmail.