MICK Wadsworth believes that Hartlepool United are fast developing a “top, top centre-half” in the form of Peter Hartley.
The Pools-born ace, still just 22, is one of the first names on Wadsworth’s team-sheet week-in-week-out and the former Sunderland trainee has now started the last 25 league matches.
Hartley and Sam Collins have developed a sound understanding at the heart of the backline, the junior member of that duo admitting he has learnt a great deal from his senior skipper.
And that is one particular facet of Hartley’s character which Wadsworth believes will aid his maturity into one of the division’s best central defenders.
“Peter has got a fantastic attitude to learning and a great appetite to improve,” the Pools boss told SportMail.
“He is learning game-by-game and day-by-day in training.
“I think, with help of course, Peter will make himself into a very good defender and in a year’s time he’ll be a top, top centre-half, I really do.
“That’s not to say he’s not a very good defender now, because he is playing well, but he’s at a good age to have a lot of improvement left in him.”
Hartley has left behind the error-strewn displays of last season in which he was regularly deployed in a less favoured left-back position.
Wadsworth admits there are still occasions when his young stopper tries to overcomplicate matters, hence the birth of the “KISS” mantra he uses with the player – Keep It Simple Stupid.
And the manager added: “Peter has come on a helluva lot this season, there’s no doubt about that.
“I’m not that keen on Cruyff turns in our final third – the opposition final third maybe and he can still be a little too casual at times.
“We had a good chat in the summer and I explained what I wanted from him.
“He’s taken that on board, but, of course, there are parts of his game he needs to improve, one of which is quelling his eagerness to go and win every ball.”