Hartlepool United’s Baldwin is full of heart

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JACK Baldwin remains convinced that his best position is at the heart of the defence – but he admits the midfield minefield of the lower leagues have provided invaluable experience.

The 19-year-old arrived at the club two summers ago as a rookie defender straight out of sixth form.

Very quickly, however, he established himself in the first-team set-up, senior pros duly waxing lyrical about the mild-mannered southerner.

Baldwin has not looked back and was last season arguably one of the team’s better performers, winning a regular spot in midfield under former manager John Hughes.

That attracted interest from several Championship and Premier League clubs – including neighbours Middlesbrough – but the player himself maintains that his long-term vocation will be at centre-back.

“I’d still say my best position is at the back,” Baldwin said.

“That’s the position I grew up playing and when I signed it was first and foremost as a defender.

“When I’ve played there I feel I’ve done well.

“I can learn so much from Sam (Collins) and Peter (Hartley) because it’s a partnership and you’ve got to talk each other through things.

“In midfield it’s a bit different, you’ve got to learn things a little bit by yourself, sometimes though mistakes because it is so quick at times.

“But even then I’d like to think I’ve done well and I was really pleased with some of my performances in there.

“If people are saying I’m doing well in there then I’m happy.

“I’m still young so everything – every second – is about learning and improving.”