Hartlepool United's Luke James talks barren spells, confidence in his belief, new arrivals and England calls

An unwavering sense of self confidence and lessons learned as a child have pushed Luke James through his toughest moments at Hartlepool United this season.

Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 1:49 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 1:57 pm
Luke James in action against gateshead earlier this season.

James scored seven goals in just 17 starts in a five-month spell at Barrow at the end of last season, and as a result his arrival at Pools, for the third time in his career, was welcomed with some fanfare by the Hartlepool faithful.

When it comes to goals return, it's fair to say things have not worked out how James, his managers - all three of them - and the fans would have hoped.

James has netted just three times in his 33 starts this term - the third of which came last weekend, a late equaliser to rescue a point at promotion-chasing Sutton United.

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His barren spell in front of goal at one point reached 24 games and 133 days. The striker at Gander Green Lane on Saturday ended a 63-day, eight-game goalless run.

In those darkest days, when goals seem a million miles away, did James ever doubt himself?

The 24-year-old admits it would be unnatural not to think that way, but belief in his own ability and a lesson taught to him when he was making his way in the game are the things he falls back on.

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"I learned this lesson when I was little, if you are grafting hard for the team then anything on top of that is a bonus," said James.

"Obviously I want to score every game but if you can't do that you have to be putting it all in and playing well.

"Everyone has those moments where they wonder 'why is it not happening?' but you can't let that have an impact on your play.

"If you start thinking like that it has a negative impact."

James continued: "It is nice to be known for working hard for the team but at the end of the day, goals speak for themselves.

"Hopefully I can get a few more before the end of the season and we can end on a nice run.

"We have a small group but everyone is pulling in the right direction."

James was restored to the side down south after a game out with a calf strain, picked up in the equally creditable goalless draw at Ebbsfleet United.

And while his work might not always be obvious when he's in the side, against Bromley he was notable by his absence.

While Niko Muir is a more than able deputy at Pools, they lose a little bit of the nuisance factor James brings to the table.

When asked whether the calf problem is likely to trouble him further, with Pools set to host Dover Athletic this weekend, the frontman, who has formed a formidable partnership with Nicke Kabamba in recent weeks, said: "I am not feeling it.

"It has been fine. I wasn't too sure how it would fare up but it feels like a new calf."

Getting his third goal of the season, even another call up to the England C squad, paled in comparison to the news which broke in the James household last week.

Baby James No 2 is set to arrive in August this year.

"I got a call up, announced I was having another baby then the goal - it has been a quiet week," he said.

"It is just a quiet one, no celebrations for me.

"It has been a special week for me, my wife and my family and long may it continue on and off the field."

Could the little one arrive with Pools setting off back in League Two? James knows that's far fetched now, with the play offs for the Football League probably a win or three too far away.

But that does not mean Pools will have their feet up between now and the end of the current campaign - James, and the rest of the Hartlepool squad, are determined to finish the season on the up.

"The gap is probably too big now to catch but we just want to win every single game we can," he said.

"There is ten left and we have to try and finish as high as we can.

"Results like last weekend show the desire is there, everyone is pulling in the right direction. The players are looking forward to every game."