BOSS Colin Cooper has sent a stark message to any big clubs hoping to court Hartlepool United starlets Luke James and Brad Walker: It will cost you millions, writes ROY KELLY.
The teenage pair have been watched closely by clubs throughout the season – their first full Football League campaigns.
Double player of the year James bagged 16 goals in league and cup before an ankle injury in the Easter defeat at Burton ended hopes of hitting 20.
Young player of the year Walker scored only three but each one was a sensational strike – his volley at Southend winning Pools’ goal of the season award.
Cooper acknowledges that the duo will go on to enjoy a career at a higher level – but hopes they can help Pools up a level or two first. “It will be difficult (to keep them),” said Cooper. “We have had no official bids through, but they cannot be small change.
“Ever since Jack Baldwin left us in January, people know we have a pool of talent here. But if anyone wants to try to prise either of these two lads away from us, it will cost millions of pounds.
“From my point of view, I’m chuffed to bits our club can produce talent like this but also that Luke and Brad are delighted to pull on a Pools shirt.
“At some point, they will have big and successful careers. The longer we can hold on to them gives us an opportunity to get to a level that all Pools fans want this club to get back to. We need players like these two to do that.”
Cooper praised the youngsters after clinching the four main prizes at the club’s annual awards night, saying: “This has been their first full seasons and they have far and away exceeded everyone’s expectations. They have great energy and enthusiasm, but allied to some real high technical ability. If we can hang on to them it’s a brilliant opportunity for us to try to push on next year.”