Sunderland prospect Connor Oliver in contention for a start at Burton Albion v Sunderland

KEEPING AN EYE ON A LEGEND: Connor Oliver marshalls Ritchie Humphreys at the Vic on Saturday. Picture by FRANK REID
KEEPING AN EYE ON A LEGEND: Connor Oliver marshalls Ritchie Humphreys at the Vic on Saturday. Picture by FRANK REID

COLIN Cooper looks set to give the second of his Sunderland loan signings a full Hartlepool United debut this weekend.

Centre-half Scott Harrison has already played twice since his temporary switch down the A19

And now Cooper could start with Connor Oliver in this Saturday’s League Two trip to high-fliers Burton Albion.

Oliver, brought in as defensive midfield cover, made a couple of bright plays during a brief substitute appearance in the 2-1 home defeat by Chesterfield at the weekend.

The 20-year-old played one good wide pass out to Luke James, which drew a foul from a defender to give Pools a rare second-half chance to get the ball in the away box.

And shortly afterwards, he despatched a long dangerous ball towards Sam Collins, who was in an advanced position, only for the Spireites to make a vital headed interception to concede a corner.

Cooper admitted one or two of his players are looking a little “leggy” or are being affected by the tense situation.

So he has the option of bringing in Oliver, a player with fresh legs and, doubtless, boundless enthusiasm and energy.

The Geordie, a full-back by trade, has been used as a defensive midfielder by Sunderland in the Barclays Premier Reserve League.

After being out through injury, Oliver has played only eight times for the Black Cats U21 side, so should certainly be full of running.

He could be just the sort of player Cooper could turn to, either at the Pirelli Stadium, or at Victoria Park this Monday against Morecambe. Or both.

“Connor and Scott are both good footballers, I recognised that as soon as I watched them for Sunderland,” Cooper told SportMail. “Scott got a taste at Portsmouth the week before after Christian came off and he did OK on Saturday.

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“I was thinking of bringing on Connor at Portsmouth but then Christian was injured.

“Connor got a go on Saturday.

“I know he can handle a football, he can pass and he has a fierce shot if he gets 25 yards out from goal.”

Cooper will wait until tomorrow to finalise the squad he will be taking to Burton.

The Pools boss will not divulge if Oliver will join Harrison in the starting XI - the 20-year-old from Middlesbrough is set to continue in place of Burgess - but the indications are clear that he’ll be in strong contention for a place in the middle of the park.

“At the moment I need as many fit, able and hungry bodies as possible,” explained Cooper.

“And the more bodies I have, the more options I have and the better chance to win us more points.”