Cooper can’t wait for Hartlepool United’s double Dutch challenge

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NEW Hartlepool United boss Colin Cooper has seen his players on the training field for the first time – now he is looking forward to seeing them play for real this week, writes ROY KELLY.

Pools, who returned to pre-season training last Thursday, fly out to Holland tomorrow for a two-match trip.

Cooper’s side face Almere City on Thursday and Telstar on Saturday.

“There are two games, good games against different and good opposition,” said the Victoria Park chief.

“We will see where we are and hopefully get a pleasant surprise about what we are working towards and working with.”

Pools will mix training at their Dutch base with the two games and the new manager can’t wait to see some football.

“Going to Holland is good,” he said. “Pools have done it over the years and there’s a positive link.

“It gives me and Craig (Hignett, his assistant) the chance to be in a confined environment with the players and get to know them a better over the course of the six days.”

Pre-season is beginning to take shape. After the Dutch trip, Pools have home matches against Middlesbrough (July 20) and Preston (July 26), and hope to fit in another game on July 13.

Cooper is pleased with the make-up of the programme as he builds towards the League Two opener at Rochdale on August 3.

“We have two good home games,” he said.

“Middlesbrough is a good link-up, both myself and Craig have come from there and their development squad is going to play some games at the Vic – it’s a strong link between the clubs.

“And that’s going back to 1986 from when Boro played their first game at the Vic after liquidation.

“It’s a nice link for both clubs.

“We might be able to do is offer some of their young players not quite good enough for Tony Mowbray’s team the chance to play some first-team football.

“It’s all about August and the season.

“Playing Preston on the Friday night – and we are going to play one or two Friday matches in the season – gives me and Craig the chance to get out on the road and spent time on the Saturday to watch games, Rochdale obviously being one.”

Cooper is still trying to bring in new faces.

“We want to get it all in place, as much as we can,” he said.

“But even on August 3, there’s still the transfer window open and the chance to add to our squad and look at other squads as well.”