SAM Collins will take his first significant steps into the world of management tonight.
The Hartlepool United defender has been put in charge of the reserve team for the Central League East match with Scunthorpe at Billingham Town.
Collins, who scored for the second string a week ago at Mansfield Town and has come on as a sub in the last two Sky Bet League Two matches has long expressed his desire to pursue a future in coaching.
The 36-year-old has been restricted to a bench role at first-team level with Colin Cooper plumping for the young partnership of Christian Burgess and Jack Baldwin.
And Pools assistant boss Craig Hignett says the seasoned campaigner now has an opportunity at the club he has served strongly on the field for almost six years.
“Sam is not getting any younger and he sees this as the next step for him in football,” Hignett told SportMail.
“We’ve said ‘if this is what you want to do, we’ll help you’.
“He wants this extra responsibility and he’ll take the team. This is a great opportunity for him.
“He’s had some game-time over the last 10 days or so, so he does not need to play tonight.
“This gives him a chance to dip his toe in the water.
“We’ll still be about if he needs any help but this is the next stage in his progression.”
Hignett says, if the venture proves a success, it will provide vital support for him and Cooper.
“I’d like to devote more time with Colin with the first team,” said Cooper’s right-hand man.
“The first team is a full-time job in itself, but the reserves are important too so this is good for us and good for Sam too.
“Me and Colin are out a lot seeing matches and watching teams’ videos and it all takes up time.
“Giving Sam that bit more responsibility will assist us.”