PARN-HAPPY! Stuart pleased to play anywhere for Hartlepool Utd boss Cooper

Stuart Parnaby  in action for Hartlepool United against Middlesbrough. Picture by FRANK REID
Stuart Parnaby in action for Hartlepool United against Middlesbrough. Picture by FRANK REID

STUART Parnaby insists playing in central midfield is “nothing new” to him and he is looking forward to starting the season well with Hartlepool United.

The 32-year-old signed for Pools this summer and most fans expected to see him deployed in defence – not operating in front of the last line.

But so far manager Colin Cooper has been using the former Boro and Birmingham player in the central midfield berth, alongside Brad Walker and in more recent matches Tommy Miller.

With Michael Duckworth retaining the right-back berth that he has made his own since joining the club last summer.

Given Duckworth’s contribution at full-back last season – with Parnaby admitting “he was brilliant from I’ve heard” – it is perhaps not a surprise to see Parnaby used elsewhere in the team.

For his part though, Parnaby is happy playing anywhere Cooper tells him to.

“I just want to play wherever the manager plays me,” he told SportMail.

“I enjoy playing right side, I enjoy playing in the middle.

“It’s all about getting games under my belt.”

With fellow new signing Matthew Bates partnering the versatile Neil Austin in central defence for the majority of pre-season, Parnaby doesn’t expect to be moved into central defence any time soon either.

Parnaby added: “Midfield’s where I’ve played all of the pre-season games.

“If that’s where I end up playing, then I’m happy there and I’m comfortable.

“I’ll be learning the position as I go.

“But I’ve played there when I was young at Middlesbrough so it’s nothing new for me.”

Parnaby and Bates bring with them a wealth of experience to the Pools first team squad, having played in the Premier League, Championship and European experience – Parnaby, a former England U21 international, having played in the UEFA Cup final with Boro.

While Parnaby may be more used to the defensive side of the game he is looking forward to the challenge of playing further up the park.

Operating in the midfield of course brings with it the extra burden of having to create chances for the front men.

But confident Parnaby did not express any concern that attacking forays have, on the whole, been rather infrequent during the summer friendlies.

Indeed he has backed Cooper’s first team front pairing of Marlon Harewood and Luke James to find their goalscoring boots.

He added: “I’d like to create 10 chances if we can.

“If it takes one really good chance and we score then it’s a matter of keeping a clean sheet.

“We work on everything each day – finishing, defending.

“If we can defend well and nick the odd goal we have a half chance.

“We have Marlon (Harewood) and Luke (James) scored a hatful last season so if we can get him off and running then we’re laughing.”