Luke James set to make Hartlepool United history as Craig Hignett hails striker’s impact ahead of England C debut
Hartlepool United’s Luke James will make a little bit of history when he dons the Three Lions and plays for England C against Wales C.
Injury prevented the player making his international bow earlier this season, but the striker is part of Paul Fairclough’s 16-man squad this evening for the encounter at Salford City’s Peninsula Stadium, with James set to become the first Pools player to represent the Non-league Lions.
James may well have only scored three goals for Pools this season, in his third spell at Victoria Park, but his contribution stretches well beyond just goals.
And manager Craig Hignett admits he’s been over the moon with the player’s National League performances this season - but he won’t be shouting it from the rooftops!
“Luke is brilliant for us, he does more than a job and I won’t sit here and bang on about how good he is because managers would want him,” joked Hignett.
“It’s not about goals, it’s what he gives us with the rest of his game.
“He’s good around the place and effective in what he does – chasing, running and epitomises what I want to see in a play.
“He keeps going and going and you see it in him when he gets kicked, he just gets up and gets on with it and he helps others with the work he does and the way he attracted people towards him to give others space.
“His role cannot be under-estimated at all.”
The goals tally is something that clearly disappoints the player - who netted seven for Barrow in just four months last season.
But it’s not something that concerns Hignett at all.
“Luke’s game isn’t about goals, and I didn’t get him as a goalscorer,” said the manager.
“I took him for him as a lad and how he is – I have 100 per cent trust in him because he will never ever let you down and those players are worth their weight in gold.
“Some players think they are better than that after a big move, but that’s not him.
“He does what is asked of him and will follow instructions, he trains well and is great around the place – there’s not many like him in football and I feel lucky we have got him.
“He’s been called up for England C and people know what he does – a real handful.
“With his attitude and personality he deserves success.
“He’s been around forever, but only young still and learning and loads more to come from him.”
NOTABLE ENGLAND C PLAYERS WITH NORTH EAST LINKS
Aiden Flint - 2010
The Middlesbrough centre-half amassed over 100 appearances for Alfreton Town between 2008-2011, earning his England C bow in 2010.
In that time, he twice represented the Three Lions C team - his final outing coming in a 1-0 defeat International Challenge Trophy defeat to Estonia.
Danny Collins - 2003/04
While the former Sunderland defender went on to commit his international allegiances to Wales, Collins did represent England in his time at Chester and Vauxhall Motors in non-league.
Collins accumulated six appearances for England C before gaining promotion to the Football League with Chester in 2005.
Paul Brayson - 2007
The 41-year-old is still plying his trade in non-league now for Northern League Division One side Newcastle Benfield - where he has remarkably struck 40+ goals for the last four seasons.
Brayson spent 10 years in the Football League as a move to Northwich Victoria - which included a loan spell at Gateshead - brought an England C call-up.
His only appearance was memorable one as the Three Lions hit Scotland for three on their way to winning the Four Nations Tournament in 2007.