COLIN Cooper has revealed Sam Collins is keen to take a step back from first team duties and help out more on the coaching front on match days.
The 37-year-old Hartlepool United player coach has made four appearances in central defence so far this season but hasn’t featured in any of the past five matches.
Last week the club brought in Middlesbrough utility man David Atkinson in on loan for an initial month and Cooper has revealed Collins had informed his manager he was keen to help out more on match days.
Pontefract-born Collins signed a new contract in the summer and was given the title of assistant first/reserve team coach, with responsibility for the second string.
At the time both Cooper and Collins stressed that the former Hull City defender was very much in the first team plans.
But that has changed with the arrival of Atkinson from Championship neighbours Boro.
The 21-year-old was on the bench for the goalless draw with Pompey at Victoria Park with Collins assisting Cooper on the bench, alongside assistant manager and goalkeeping coach Stephen Pears.
That scenario looks set to continue for today’s crunch match at home to bottom-placed Carlisle United in Sky Bet League Two – as long as Atkinson remains fit.
Cooper told SportMail: “Me and Sam have been talking about all sorts of things and he is very keen to give me some more help.
“Having somebody like David Atkinson in gives Sam an awful lot of opportunities to do the other side of things – something he is very keen to do.
“If we need central defensive cover then David will more than capably go into our back four and lap league Two up.
“He is a man, a good man.
“It is just something Sam wants to do. He is 37 and is looking at what is around the corner and is doing is coaching qualifications.
“He is keen and I have given Sam free reign with the reserves or the development squad whatever you want to call them, and he is enjoying that.
“The conversation we had was that if we bring David in, then he would like to step aside and help me a lot more.
“That is great for me and I want to give him the chance to develop himself as a coach.
“He is having a superb career but is really keen on the other side.
“Having seen the way he works and the reserve lads, he has a lot to offer.
“Someone gave me that opportunity when I was Sam’s age and everybody needs a leg up from time to time.”
Atkinson is the fifth player on loan at Pools and squads can have a maximum of five loan players on a match day.
Pools already have Middlesbrough duo Charlie Wyke and Ryan Brobbel, Sunderland defender Scott Harrison and Newcastle United goalkeeper Freddie Woodman temporarily on their books.
Third-bottom Pools have not added any further faces to their squad ahead of today’s match, despite 35-year-old Clinton Morrison training with the club this week.
He is one of two free agents to train with Pools, the other being former Sunderland striker Jordan Laidler, 19, who has been playing for West Auckland in the Northern League.
Both have spent time at the club’s Maiden Castle base, in Durham, but no deals have yet been sealed with Carlisle also tracking Morrison.
A bumper crowd was expected at Victoria Park with Keith Curle’s Cumbrian side set to be backed by more than 700 travelling supporters.
* Log on to www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk for team news, half-time and full-time match reports from Pools’ match with Carlisle United today.
Follow @RichMennearJP and @HPoolMail on Twitter for live updates throughout the match.