Scouts flock to see Hartlepool Utd defeat Notts County in FA Cup

Luke James celebrates scoring his second goal against Notts County. Picture by FRANK REID
Luke James celebrates scoring his second goal against Notts County. Picture by FRANK REID

COLIN Cooper says it is no coincidence the number of scouts visiting Victoria Park is growing by the match and free-scoring Luke James’ name will be high on the wanted list, writes Richard Mennear.

The 18-year-old, last week named Sky Bet League Two player of the month for October, scored his eighth and ninth goals of the season on Saturday after bagging a brace in the 3-2 win over Notts County.

His gaffer was once again delighted with James’ effort and work rate and said his goals are just rewards for the effort he puts in on the training ground.

Cooper and assistant Craig Hignett spent time last week working with the club’s forwards on gambling in the box and following in on rebounds.

That work paid dividends on Saturday for the second goal, when James took advantage to score after Bartosz Bialkowski spilled Michael Duckworth’s low drive from 20 yards out.

Cooper said: “I don’t think it is any coincidence that the scouts list that lands on my desk on match days is filled with people and is getting longer.

“And rightly so, not just for Luke, but for quite a few players in the team. We are quite a young squad and a young team, bar one or two more experienced players.

“It is great to see something that you have touched on during the week – and want people to improve on – come off and I got a cheeky little grin after Luke scored the tap in.

“Good centre forwards will go and hope that the goalkeeper spills it, will hope that there is a flick on, will hope that the defender drops a clanger and lets you in.

“Luke is a real learner and wants to get better.”

The 46-year-old described his nine-goal top scorer as a “rat” to play against and praised his constant work rate.

Cooper, a former defender for Middlesbrough and England, said: “Luke is like the Duracell Bunny.

“He won’t relax and won’t stop and has the capability to say to the defender: “I will put you under pressure but when we win the ball I’m going to run the other side of you and can you cope with that?”.

“That’s why he gets fouls and the amount of times he got on the back shoulder of a defender was brilliant and he got his rewards because of that.

“Defenders hate it when their technique is put under pressure, time after time.

“At some point the technique will flaw and that is the point where Luke hopes they might switch off for a minute and gambles on the goalkeeper spilling the ball.”

Cooper, himself named Sky Bet League Two manager of the month for October, added: “It has been a smashing week for him.

“To have the award and then to come into the FA Cup and score two goals is brilliant.”