JOE Allon believes that Steve Howard will be the “15 to 20 goal striker” who can fire Hartlepool United into the League One promotion shake-up.
Former favourite Allon was enjoying his second spell at Victoria Park when a teenage Howard arrived from non-league Tow Law Town in 1995.
The pair soon forged a striking partnership and their goals helped preserve Pools’ League status in successive seasons.
Now, Howard is back at the Vic having yesterday become Neale Cooper’s third signing of the summer.
And Allon insists that the muscle-bound frontman is the very player his old club has long since craved.
“It’s a fabulous signing,” the 1991 promotion-winning star told SportMail.
“I saw him play last season for Leicester and he’s still a real threat and will definitely score goals in League One.
“This club is ready for a real push at promotion now and I think Steve can be that 15-to-20-goal striker who can make the difference.
“If Neale can get the right man to play alongside him then I think Steve will create as many goals as he scores as well.
“He isn’t here to make the numbers up and he’ll want to make a big impact and I think it’ll be an exciting season.
“Neale has come back and brought some good players in over the summer and I see no reason why this club can’t make it to the Championship.
“I’m buzzing that Steve’s back and I think this will get the fans going with the season tickets as well.”
Allon remembers rookie Howard who, along with Micky Barron, he used to travel to and from matches and training with back in the mid-90s.
And the 45-year-old always believed that Howard would forge a successful career in the game.
“He was raw, yes, but he had good ability,” Allon reflected.
“But the one thing about him was his attitude to learn and that shows in how he went on and really made something of himself.
“Him and Micky were really refreshing kids but I think I used to drive them mad in the car when we travelled together.”
Allon went on: “Steve wanted to be a midfield player when he first came but I wanted him up front with me and thankfully that’s where he ended up.
“He was my protection squad at times because he’s a big guy who can handle himself.
“He’s one a rare breed of a centre-forward who plays with their back to goal and brings others in.
“So I just think he’s exactly what Pools need and I can’t wait to see him playing here next season.”