HARTLEPOOL United manager Colin Cooper says Luke James’ weekend strike was just rewards for his unselfish performances - but has challenged the teenager to double his current goal tally.
The 18-year-old capped another fine display against Exeter City with a delightful lob in the 3-0 win at St James Park.
And now his gaffer is looking for him to continue his goalscoring run.
In total, James has bagged five goals so far this season in 14 league and cup appearances.
His manager has the faith and confidence that the youngster – leading the line in the 4-4-1-1 formation – can only get better.
Cooper said: “Luke got himself a goal and I’m really pleased for the lad because in the last two performances he has put in some really good shifts for the team and hasn’t scored but he got the rewards for putting that work in.
“Luke is a very young boy and I believe he can quite easily score double the amount of goals he has got now.
“We are working with him, as we are working with everybody, and he can only get better.
“Every time you speak to him he has his eyes wide open looking you right in the eyes and he wants to get better and he will get better.”
Goals from James, a first-half header from Jack Baldwin and a clinical half-volley from pacy winger Jack Compton was enough to secure the three points on Saturday, which saw Pools continue their climb up League Two to 16th.
Compton was the star of the show against the Devon side, with one goal and two assists, but Cooper is confident he too can only improve.
Cooper said: “Jack can get better, he can really get better.
“He still makes a lot of poor decisions but at the end of the day he is putting his work in for the team when we are not in possession.
“But we can’t let him switch off.
“You have to be constantly on to the people that play in the forward positions about what they are doing for the team out of possession.
“But I have to say him and Andy [Monkhouse] on the other side, Luke up front and James [Poole] in behind, didn’t half work hard for the team out of possession and did well for the team in possession as well.”