New Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett hopes to bring out the best in Lewis Hawkins, Luke James and Brad Walker

Luke James
Luke James

Craig Hignett hopes to bring out the best out of three familiar faces in the Hartlepool United squad.

The Pools camp has changed much since he was the assistant boss to Colin Cooper in the 2013-14 season.

New Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett

New Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett

But there were some familiar faces when the 46-year-old took his maiden training sessions as a manager.

Lewis Hawkins, Luke James and Brad Walker were all teenage prospects when Hignett was last at the club.

Admittedly, they are hardly old timers now but all three have suffered blips.

l Hawkins, 21, spent a spell out on loan at Spennymoor this season but returned to be man of the match against Derby in the FA Cup.

I’m looking forward to working with them and giving them a bit of a lift

Craig Hignett

l James, 21, has not scored all season and found the net only four times since Hignett stopped coaching him in March 2014.

l Walker, 20, has barely featured all season, making just four starts though he did score that crucial late winner at Yeovil.

All three have undoubted talent and Hignett aims to be the man to coax it out of them.

“It was good to see Luke, Lewis and Brad,” said Hignett.

“I’m looking forward to working with them and giving them a bit of a lift, getting them coached and back up and moving forward again

“I’m looking not just at this league but higher divisions because there is no doubt they have ability.

“It’s up to me to get the best out of them - if I can’t then it’s my fault.

“Brad has not played a lot, but there might be reasons for that, he’s only 20 he could be going through a growth spurt.

“There could be all kinds of things going wrong for a young player, not just for Brad but any young footballer.

“You could say the same about Luke, he’s got his move to Peterborough and then he’s sort of not gone anywhere, he’s not moved forward.”

Hignett feels he has not only the coaching qualities but the psychological skills to bring the best out of the players.

“Sometimes people need to be shown what to do,” said the former Middlesbrough assistant boss.

“They need to be coached, sometimes they need to have an arm put around them, sometimes they don’t.

“It’s about knowing what players need.

“I am good at sitting down and spending time with people and that’s what I’ll do with the young lads.

“It’s about giving them every chance to realise their potential.”

Hignett enjoyed a great career, leaving Crewe Alexandra in a big-money move to Middlesbrough, where he played in two promotion campaigns and two Wembley finals.

He moved on to Aberdeen, Blackburn, Leicester and Leeds among others before ending his career with Pools in 2007.

Given his career spanned two decades and took him to many honours, he is well-placed to guide young players.

“It’s about giving them help, advice, ‘this is the path I took, this is what worked for me, give it a go’,” he explained.

“If it doesn’t work then try something different.

“It’s about working with players and making them feel good about themselves.”