Hartlepool Utd boss to give trialists every chance to earn contract

Eugene Bopp in action against Billingham Town. Picture by FRANK REID
Eugene Bopp in action against Billingham Town. Picture by FRANK REID

COLIN Cooper will give four players currently training with Hartlepool United every opportunity to earn themselves a contract.

Trialists Eugen Bopp and Biko Bradnock-Brennan have been with the first team squad for the past fortnight and they have been joined at training by ex-Pools midfielder Tommy Miller and Michael Woods.

Both Bopp and Bradnock-Brennan played in last night’s 9-0 mauling of Billingham Town at Bedford Terrace, but neither Miller or Woods were involved.

However, Cooper has told SportMail that all four could be involved in the club’s next friendly – away to Bradford Park Avenue on Saturday – and he is keen to see them in competitive action.

Shotton-born Miller, 35, is available on a free after leaving Sky Bet League Two side Bury at the end of last season.

During his time at Pools Miller bagged 35 goals in 135 games before moving to Ipswich Town, Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday and he has been joined at training by Harrogate Town midfielder Woods, 24.

York-born Woods – a former youth player at Leeds United – has previously played for Chelsea, Yeovil Town and Doncaster and signed for the Conference North side in 2013.

Cooper is looking to add experience to his midfield options with former Premier League midfielders Michael Brown, Jonathan Greening and David Prutton very much on the club’s radar.

Cooper told SportMail: “I have offered Tommy and Michael an opportunity to come and train with us.

“Michael’s CV as a young player speaks for itself and he has a very high technical specification, which I like and he is a tough little cookie with it. He can also get a goal from midfield and is clever.

“I have known Tommy for a lot of years and he was one I earmarked in the summer as a possibility.

“While I haven’t made any decisions – and I am still looking into three or four different options – I just asked if Tommy wanted to come into train, keep himself ticking over and be part of the group.

“I know what they could give us but I need to see them play competitive football and it is down to them to show me enough to warrant bringing them in full-time.

“But that is what training or being on trial is all about and Michael Duckworth did it last year for a month.

“For Tommy and Michael, Eugen and Biko, it is an opportunity, do what they can to grasp it and hopefully they will have long futures at Hartlepool.

“But that is not just down to me, we have to see enough to justify going to Russ Green and the chairman to see if we can keep them.”

Asked whether Miller and Woods could feature at Bradford Park Avenue, Cooper added: “All four of them, I’m hoping, could feature at Bradford.

“But both Tommy and Michael may turn round and say ‘I’m not part of your set up and can’t risk getting injured’.

“But I’ll offer them the opportunity because it will be a really good game and a good test.”

Bopp is a central midfield player while Bradnock-Brennan is a defender who has spent time at college in America and both played well against Billingham.

The Pools manager is expected to make a decision on their futures after the Park Avenue match.

Cooper told SportMail: “They haven’t got a deadline but I said I would give them every opportunity I could against Billingham and again on Saturday against Bradford Park Avenue.

“In Biko’s case he has an American scholarship so he needs a decision whether he has to make a phone call to go back to the States.

“That is why I asked him to give me one more week because I can’t make a decision without seeing some competitive football.

“Give me that week and I will give them both every chance to express themselves and then we will sit down after the game on Saturday and see where we are.”