COLIN Cooper has confirmed he would “love” to have either Christian Burgess or Scott Harrison back at Hartlepool United this season.
Middlesbrough defender Burgess, 22, spent the whole of last season on loan excelling in the centre of defence with his calm but commanding performances.
Meanwhile, Sunderland centre back Harrison, 20, was drafted in towards the end as cover but impressed in the final five matches of Sky Bet League Two.
Cooper has now confirmed to SportMail that he’d love to be reunited with either one of them but admits that will very much be down to what their parent clubs decide to do.
Cooper was speaking ahead of Pools’ next pre-season friendly, against Championship neighbours Boro at Victoria Park tomorrow night (KO 7.30pm).
Burgess - who played 46 times for Pools last season - is expected to be in Aitor Karanka’s squad for the short trip up the A19.
Harrison, meanwhile, came on as a second-half substitute for Gus Poyet’s Sunderland side in last week’s 3-0 friendly win over Pools.
There is no guarantee Burgess would be available for loan, given he has featured in several of Boro’s first team pre-season matches so far including the 3-1 win over Rochdale at the weekend.
But it is understood he would favour a loan move back to Pools, if Boro decide he can go out on loan, although they may prefer to see him playing at a higher level.
“Christian did smashing for us last season and he got better as the season went on,” Cooper told SportMail.
“The two lads Scott and, in particular Christian, both did a great job for this football club.
“Christian is a great lad and really enjoyed his time here but whether he comes back is really up to Middlesbrough.
“But we have made no bones about the fact that we’d love to have Christian back and Scott would be more than welcome too.
“From our point of view, though, the ball is in the parent clubs court.
“We have made lots of phone calls and inquiries about the possibility of players. You have a certain list and if you get two or three you’ve done well and we will continue to try.
“I fully understand the supporters saying ‘are we signing anybody?’ The fact is I want to sign players that I know are good enough to go straight into the team.
“That is the hard bit but we will continue to try.”
While Pools may be well off for full-backs, with Neil Austin, Jordan Richards, Darren Holden, Michael Duckworth and Stuart Parnaby all capable of playing there, the club is short on central defensive cover.
New signing Matthew Bates has twice partnered Austin in the middle so far, while Sam Collins got his first 90-minutes of pre-season against Whitby Town on Saturday.
Cooper admits he is looking for cover. He has has made no secret he will be looking to the loan window to strengthen his squad and will be looking for support from Pools’ North East neighbours.
The Pools boss told SportMail: “Against Sunderland I thought Neil [Austin] did a decent job at centre-half alongside Matthew [Bates].
“Now do we find somebody better or do we find somebody that might be able to provide cover, it would certainly be nice to have options.
“Big Sam [Collins] is more than willing to carry on doing the dual role but he needs to continue to think about being a player while exploring the other stuff off the field – which he has done well at.
“From a logical point of view though we have Sam, Neil and Matthew so I could certainly do with another one in that area.
“If that is something better than what we have got and can go straight into the team, then great.”