Hartlepool United’s Neale Cooper is closing in on Ryan Noble

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SUNDERLAND striker Ryan Noble could be a Hartlepool player by the weekend.

Manager Neale Cooper was today reflecting on a “perfect” home win – but he still wants to strengthen his side ahead of a late-season play-off charge.

The Scot has confirmed his interest in the 20-year-old Black Cat, although he said more performances such as Saturday’s win against Notts County – which later saw Magpies manager Martin Allen sacked – would make it difficult to persuade clubs that their young players will get a chance at Victoria Park.

“Saturday was almost the perfect performance, but we are still looking to make ourselves stronger,” said Cooper, whose side are up to ninth in League One.

“But how can I change that team? It’s a nice problem to have. I’ve asked about one or two players and the clubs have said ‘will they get a game?’.

“But you can always improve and I still feel we need a goalscorer.

“We want a (former Hartlepool striker) Joel Porter type – someone always in and around the goal area.

“Marco Gabbiadini was like that when he was here, an out-and-out scorer to get on the end of things.

“I’m keen on Ryan Noble. I have enquired.

“It’s been ongoing for a while, but we target players and then make sure they want to come.”

Cooper, however, was thrilled with the “top class” finishing which saw Pools cruise to victory over Notts County.

It took a slightly nervy 37 minutes before the opening goal arrived.

In that time Luke James – under the watchful eye of an astonishing 27 scouts – had poked wide from close range when he should have scored and James Brown headed over when he, too, should have broken the deadlock.

But Antony Sweeney made no mistake when his chance presented itself. Evan Horwood was the architect, hanging up an inviting left-wing centre and Sweeney did the rest, climbing highest to power a header into the bottom corner.

His second, eight minutes after the break, was a deadly demonstration of confidence, tucking home first time from 14 yards after another full-back, Neil Austin, had supplied the ammunition.

Sweeney turned provider for the third, laying on the pass for Andy Monkhouse to cut inside and drill home a goal which was just reward for his earlier endeavours.

Hartlepool: Flinders, Austin, Collins, Hartley, Horwood, Sweeney, Murray (Humphreys 85), Liddle (Haslam 69), James, Monkhouse, Brown (Boyd 74). Subs Not Used: Rafferty, Nish. Booked: Austin. Goals: Sweeney 37, 53, Monkhouse 78.

Notts County: Nelson, Freeman, Stewart, Chilvers, Sheehan, Judge (Forte 60), Bishop, Mahon, Jeff Hughes, Burgess (Montano 59), Lee Hughes (Sodje 65). Subs Not Used: Mitchell, Bencherif. Booked: Stewart, Bishop, Montano. Att: 4, 718 Ref: Oliver Langford (W Midlands).