‘I still want to be top goalscorer’ - goal-shy Luke James sets ambitious Hartlepool United target

Hartlepool United's Luke James and Barnet's Dan Sweeney during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Barnet at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Sunday 18th November 2018. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News & Sport Ltd)'�MI News & Sport Ltd'Tel: +44 7752 571576'e-mail: markf@mediaimage.co.uk'Address: 1 Victoria Grove, Stockton on Tees, TS19 7EL
Hartlepool United's Luke James and Barnet's Dan Sweeney during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Barnet at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Sunday 18th November 2018. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News & Sport Ltd)'�MI News & Sport Ltd'Tel: +44 7752 571576'e-mail: markf@mediaimage.co.uk'Address: 1 Victoria Grove, Stockton on Tees, TS19 7EL

Luke James accepts his Hartlepool United goal tally is not up to scratch.

But the 24-year-old frontman has faith the goals will eventually flow this season.

In his third spell at Pools, James has played 21 games, 19 of which have been starts. In that time he has netted just once.

It’s a tally that frustrates the Ashington-born forward.

“I am frustrated,” said James.

“It doesn’t matter who the opposition is I aim to score a goal. And when you come off the pitch having not done that, it gets to you.

“I can add pressure. I do not feel it as much as I used to.

“It gets to me on the Saturday and Sunday but you have to move on and start fresh every Monday.

“If you let it get to you the pressure builds and builds and you start saying to yourself ‘I have to score this week’ and that can be counter-productive.”

James may well be keen not to pile on the pressure, but he retains his pre-season aim of being Pools’ top-scorer this season, a record currently held by midfielder Liam Noble, who has seven goals.

“I relish a challenge,” said former Peterborough man James.

“I feel I have performed well without scoring the goals but I still want to be top goalscorer - what striker doesn’t.

“I am sick of hearing Liam saying he’s top of the list - it is a striker’s job to knock him off it.

“I just need to keep my head down and hopefully the goals will come.”

Despite his lack of goals, James remains an immensely popular figure among the Pools faithful.

He’s a likeable, hard-working striker, who clearly has a love a club - which seems to tick a number of boxes with Poolies.

And with that James wants to repay the faith the fans and the club have shown him by getting the goals to fire Pools up the league. He’s not content with just being a player who looks good, he knows he needs to bring a killer instinct to the table.

“If you are a striker you have to score goals,” said James.

“I want to play well in every game, of course I do, but I also want to score goals.

“Imagine ending the season with just one goal, then everyone saying ‘but he played well, though’ - of course I wouldn’t be happy with that.

“It is the job of a striker to score goals and I know I have to not scored enough this season. Strikers are judged on goals and goals alone.

“I do have a belief, a confidence that I can get goals.

“I scored goals last year - I have proven I can do it.”

For much of the season, until the last month or so, James and Niko Muir were two of the first names on the teamsheet.

Bates has since thrown in Marcus Dinanga and Tyrone O’Neill, in a bid to spice things up in the final third.

Muir has waxed lyrical about James this season and it’s a feeling that’s reciprocated.

James says it’s “frightening” how good Muir is already, less than six months into his National League development.

“We got an understanding quite early on,” said James.

“It was frightening how quick he made the step up and looked at home at this level.

“His hold up play is unbelievable. He is very strong. He does a lot of work in the gym.

“He is excellent to work with - he is a quality player and a great lad.

“We just need to produce more goals.”