LUKE James’s goals can keep Hartlepool United in the Football League.
But boss Colin Cooper today insisted Pools League Two safety must rest on the shoulders of all the players – not just the leading scorer.
The teen sensation has bagged 16 goals this season and Cooper suspects if he ends up with 20 or more that would mean Pools are getting points and are out of danger.
James had just one chance on Saturday in the 2-1 defeat by Chesterfield and he took it with some aplomb – his left-foot shot being too good for Spireites keeper Tommy Lee.
The 19-year-old would appear to be immune from the side’s current struggles and still seems full of running.
“Luke has been a shining light this season,” Cooper told SportMail.
“And, if he can continue to score goals, and get somewhere to 20 then we will be all right.
“If you are asking a 19-year-old striker to be your saviour, it’s asking an awful lot.
“In order to keep out of the trouble, it needs more than Luke – everyone needs to step up from back to front to ensure his goals are something positive and not a goal that gets us in the lead, but we end up losing.”
Cooper was thrilled with the goal from his top scorer who was played in by Jack Barmby’s skilled pass down the right.
James has seen precious little of the ball over the last 180 minutes – on the floor
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anyway, most of it has been in the air – but his strike showed he’s as sharp as ever.
“Luke took his goal well,” said Cooper.
“I think it was the first time Jack had brought the ball in and looked after it properly.
“It was a lovely first touch and finish from Luke.”
Mention of Barmby leads on to fears that one or two – or more – of the Pools squad are struggling against mental and physical fatigue.
Both Jacks, Barmby and Compton, have been short of their best over the last two Saturdays while a tumultuous first season in the Football League appears to have caught up with Brad Walker.
“We have players who are giving everything they have left and I need to look and ask are they running out of fuel?” asked Cooper.
“There are some very good young footballers, who are stretching every sinew.
“For me, the Jacks should not be struggling as we give them encouragement to be positive in playing in the positions they do.
“There could be something else?
“The two lads are both creative players.
“Are they in the right place to get us across the line? I need to think about that this week.”