Ex Hartlepool skipper told to focus on his form

Matthew Bates
Matthew Bates
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SAM Collins has told Matthew Bates to concentrate on playing ... after taking the captaincy off him.

SAM Collins has told Matthew Bates to concentrate on playing ... after taking the captaincy off him.

The caretaker Hartlepool United boss has made several changes since taking over the reins on a temporary basis following Colin Cooper’s resignation.

The 37-year-old has turned to youth in a new-look 4-3-3 formation and dropped some experienced players, including striker Marlon Harewood.

But another notable change has been the decision to make goalkeeper Scott Flinders his captain, instead of Bates (pictured below) who was brought to the club in the summer by Cooper.

Collins has praised the influence of Flinders in the two matches he has been caretaker, with the stopper very vocal and commanding his penalty area.

“I’ve made Scott my captain and it’s just another decision I wanted to make,” Collins said.

“I told Batesy I wanted him to concentrate on playing and I told Scott I thought he was ready for the job.

“I’ve played with Scott a long time and he’s a brilliant professional.

“He is ready for that. When he first came in he was quite young for a goalkeeper but as he has developed as a keeper he has also developed as a person as well.

“It’s just my choice to freshen things up and make changes. I thought he enjoyed the responsibility.”

Collins, who is being assisted by coaches Stephen Pears and Brian Honour after he joined the staff on a short-term basis, is enjoying his spell as caretaker.

He isn’t afraid of freshening the side up either, with Bates deployed in central midfield against Exeter City on Saturday instead of his usual berth at centre-back.

The experienced former Middlesbrough, Bradford and Bristol City was sluggish in the opening stages but grew into the match against the Grecians and ended up being playmaker.

Collins believes the 27-year-old has the ability to play central midfield.

He added: “He improved as the game went on and I thought we did as a team, like we did against Sheffield United as well.

“We need to start games better and if we do that we will be a threat.

“Matthew Bates can do that job, he’s good enough on the ball to play there in midfield and he has a defensive mindset to look after things in there, especially when you are away from home.

“I trust them all out there, this is the way I want to go.”