BOSS Colin Cooper has given his backing to young Hartlepool United defender Darren Holden and called on him to take inspiration from his captain, writes RICHARD MENNEAR.
The 20-year-old has made just four appearances this term but Cooper, a former left-back himself, is confident he will make his mark.
Holden was drafted into the starting line-up for the 1-0 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win at Sheffield United last midweek because of injury to Sam Collins and Jack Baldwin being suspended.
But the youngster was dropped to the bench for Saturday’s 3-0 win over Exeter, with Baldwin back in the centre of defence and stand-in captain Neil Austin returning to left-back.
Cooper believes Holden can learn a lot from 30-year-old Austin, who has made the left-back spot his own this season after Evan Horwood was released in the summer.
Midfielder Bradley Walker, who started against the Blades after returning from a five-week injury lay-off, was also benched at Exeter City.
Cooper admitted it was a tough team selection for the Exeter game and said the pair were both unlucky to miss out.
Cooper said: “Brad has been out for five to six weeks with his ankle.
“He played 90 minutes against Sheffield United, which I didn’t think he would get through 90 minutes, if I’m honest.
“Darren is a talented young boy but he is unlucky at the moment because of the way things are.
“We have the team captain doing a terrific job and it is hard for Darren.
“But if he takes Neil’s example by being a good professional, working his socks off and putting his body on the line when he crosses the white line, then Darren will be OK and I have said that from day one.
“They were both unlucky to miss out.”