Luke James returns to training but Neale Cooper won’t rush Pools starlet

GRIM VIEWING: Hartlepool United manager Neale Cooper. Picture by FRANK REID
GRIM VIEWING: Hartlepool United manager Neale Cooper. Picture by FRANK REID

LUKE James is back in training after a month on the sidelines – but Neale Cooper will not force the fitness of the Pools wonderkid.

The sight of the 17-year-old upping his comeback bid at Maiden Castle this week has been a welcome one for the first-team coach, who rates his starlet as highly as any of the youngsters he’s ever worked with.

James – who has missed the last six matches because of a back complaint – has a chance of making the substitutes’ bench for this weekend’s visit of Sheffield United, but Cooper insists he will not risk the long-term condition of the striker.

“It’s really encouraging to see Luke back out doing a bit of training,” the Pools chief told SportMail today.

“He’s still doing his rehab with the physios as well but he says he feels good.

“It’s great to have him back because there’s no doubt we’ve missed him.

“But we’ve got to be careful with him because he’s at the age where these growth spurts can be dangerous.

“A few of the youth-team lads have had problems the same as Luke and one of the boys has grown three inches – we’re still waiting for that to happen with Luke though!

“But the good news is he’s feeling a lot better and we’ll have to see tomorrow or on Friday how he is for the weekend.”

There was more positive news coming from the Poolie camp today as Cooper confirmed that Peter Hartley has avoided a broken bone in his leg.