DARREN Holden can be “anything he wants to be” at Hartlepool United according to his manager, who has called on the defender to show more self-belief.
Colin Cooper has been impressed with the form of the left-back in the past three matches after coming into the side in place of Jordan Richards, who saw red three minutes into the Fleetwood Town match.
Richards’ moment of madness gave Holden, 20, the opportunity of a regular run in the first team and he has grabbed it with both hands, impressing in the 2-0 win over York City, the 2-1 defeat to Wimbledon and last Saturday’s goalless draw with Scunthorpe.
Pools have managed to keep two clean sheets in three matches, and Holden’s performances have not gone unnoticed by his gaffer, who says he has great potential.
Cooper said: “My advice to Darren, and I said this to him after the Scunthorpe game, was that if he believed in himself a little bit more he can be anything he wants to be.
“It is easy for me to say to him, and he will say if you believed in me as much as you tell me you do – which I do – then you would have played me.
“But Michael (Duckworth) has been outstanding, Oz (Neil Austin) is the captain of the team as things stand at the moment and has been good, strong and steady for us.
“Darren just needs to have that little bit more belief in his ability and technicality and that will come with playing games.
“As things stand, he is in the team, is doing well and will continue to do that.”
Holden is blessed with a sweet left foot, pace and a long throw – which Pools would do well to make more use of in the final third.
But he has also improved his defensive work.
Cooper, a former Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough left-back, added: “He wants to improve as a young defender, which is the one thing I have said to him we will do.
“I always say to people who have got his pace, just watch Ashley Cole defend.
“He doesn’t allow people space and time because he knows he is quick enough so he gets in their faces.
“Darren could do that a little bit more and be a bit more calmer in possession.
“But the one thing he did against Scunthorpe, which is what I’d asked him to do, was to use his energy.
“Every time Andy (Monkhouse) drifted inside Darren was on his outside shoulder, gone.
“That is what he has to offer and he needs to believe more in his technical ability, use his energy more, don’t save it but leave it all out there on the pitch.
“He is doing that a little bit more every week and he has been a credit to himself, he has been smashing.”