COLIN Cooper has picked out Marlon Harewood as a key man in Hartlepool United’s late-season push towards League Two’s top seven.
And, at the other end of the age spectrum, Cooper has identified Jack Barmby as another attacking player who can have a key impact in the final 12 games of the Sky Bet League programme.
The teenager, at 19 the second youngest player in the side after Brad Walker, scored his second goal in Pools colours in the win over the Gulls.
Reminiscent of his stunning debut goal against York City, Barmby showed great composure to make room to shoot and then found the top corner of Michael Poke’s net with a beautiful finish.
It justified Cooper’s decision to start with the Manchester United prospect in the key role just off the frontline pairing of Harewood and Luke James.
And with Barmby contributing more when Pools do not have the ball, the Pools boss is confident Barmby can keep delivering, starting with Saturday’s vital trip to Wycombe Wanderers.
“Having seen Jack play, he can operate all along the front line – even as a number nine,” Cooper explained.
“Development football is different to League football.
“With Luke Williams going back to Middlesbrough, we spoke about which route we’d go down and ummed and arred about things and people who could play there.
“But as soon as Middlesbrough decided to take Luke back, I think it was the right thing to see Jack in that position.
“I heard one or two things said from behind me after the first five or 10 minutes but obviously that quickly disappeared after he stuck one in the top corner.
“But he put a shift in for the team, you could see that when we brought him off, he was shattered,
“He put the work in, both in and out of possession, and that’s what you have to do in this league.
“You might have talent, but you have do the hard graft too and Jack did that.
“When he gets into positions where he can be creative, like he did when he scored his goal, it gives him the confidence he needs.”
Cooper told SportMail all his attentions were geared towards Saturday’s trip to Adams Park and did not want to discuss the assistant manager situation at the current time.
But he was thrilled to talk about Barmby and the promise he showed against Torquay he wants to see built on against the Chairboys.
“I’m not sure Manchester United sent anyone to watch Jack on Saturday,” Cooper added.
“But I’ll be speaking to [Man United development manager] Warren Joyce this week.
“I’ll be talking to him about his continued development as a footballer.
“Yes, he’s got talent and yes, he can manipulate a ball and shoot.
“But what does he does he do when he hasn’t got the ball? On Saturday he did his job and we’ll be looking for him to continue like that.”