Hartlepool United teen sensation Connor Simpson deserved his place and goal

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Craig Harrison will have no hesitation unleashing Connor Simpson against Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday.

Simpson was handed his first Hartlepool United start in the 3-1 spanking of Maidstone at the weekend, capping an excellent display with the match-clinching third in front of a packed Town End.

Craig Harrison

Harrison went with the 17-year-old after a foot injury ruled out joint leading scorer, Jake Cassidy, preferring the Guisborough teen sensation ahead of fit-again Rhys Oates.

The Pools boss is waiting on results of a scan on Cassidy, who would be favourite to start against the Daggers at Victoria Park, should he be given the all-clear.

But Simpson showed his worth, performing well as the central striker, with Jonathan Franks and Devante Rodney on his outside.

“There were all kinds of scenarios I could have started with,” Harrison told SportMail. “I could have gone with Devante up front and Ryan Donaldson on the right, Rhys could have been used centrally.

“But Connor has done well in training, in the youth team and, obviously, had a little bit of exposure at the end of last season.

“It’s something I’ve always done at other clubs and something I certainly believe in, if the player is good enough they will play.

“I’ve proved that with Connor and Devante, who have played when opportunities have come along.

“I could have gone with senior players, but I felt it was right to give them the opportunity.”

Simpson started at the Vic, having impressed as a sub in the second half at Guiseley last Monday, when Pools won 1-0 to get off the mark in the National League.

He was just inches away from a teasing Nicky Deverdics cross early on but he made full contact with a Franks’ ball in on 68 minutes to power his header into the net from seven yards.

“Connor has powered a back post header in and it’s a fantastic finish for such a young lad,” added Harrison.

“He led the line reasonably well, worked his socks off and his overall play was good.

“Connor showed a lot of maturity and the goal rounded it off for him.

“Him and Devante started, 17 and 19, so there was a lot of inexperience but both were fantastic.

“They need to keep working hard, I told them that after the game but they have to keep their feet on the ground because there is a long way to go.

“If they keep doing what they are doing, they’ll get there.

“I know what it takes to play at the very top level and I was fortunate to do that at Middlesbrough with a great manager and a great club for that.

“We have to manage the younger lads correctly and not put too much on them.

“They need to have the attitude they will come into training, work hard every day and improve.”