Hartlepool United skipper Matthew Bates tips Sunderland defender Scott Harrison for top

IN CHARGE: Scott Harrison in action against Plymouth Argyle. Picture by FRANK REID

IN CHARGE: Scott Harrison in action against Plymouth Argyle. Picture by FRANK REID

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MATTHEW Bates has tipped his defensive partner for a bright future in the game.

The club captain has been partnered by Scott Harrison at the back for Pools for the past four games after the 21-year-old signed on loan from Sunderland.

That initial month-long deal ran out at the weekend but has been extended and Bates is delighted to have the chance to continue playing with Harrison.

Their partnership started out well enough with back-to-back clean sheets against Shrewsbury Town and then Tranmere Rovers at Victoria Park. But it all went horribly wrong on the road, with a heavy 5-1 defeat at Northampton Town and a 2-0 loss at Plymouth Argyle.

That result saw Pools drop into the relegation zone in Sky Bet League Two.

While the former Middlesbrough, Bristol City and Bradford City defender admits the past week has been a tough learning curve, Bates believes Harrison will be a better player for it.

Bates told SportMail: “Scott is a really good player and he has a great future in the game.

“He is only young but he loves heading the ball, reads the game really well and is actually deceivingly quite quick.

“Scott is enjoying playing first team football instead of reserve and Under-21 team football and this is a good opportunity for him.

“It was a learning curve for him when we got beat 5-1 at Northampton Town but he will go through that again in his career.

“He will probably take more from that game than the two previous matches [at home to Shrewsbury Town and Tranmere Rovers] when we kept two clean sheets.

“I am enjoying playing with him and hopefully he is enjoying playing with me.

“I’m looking forward to playing some more games with him,” added Bates ahead of the weekend visit of Portsmouth to Victoria Park.

Stockton-born Bates came through the ranks at Middlesbrough and was part of their FA Youth Cup winning side of 2003-04 before making his first team debut just days before his 18th birthday in December 2004.

He went onto play both Premier League and European football for the Teessiders.

Asked if Bates felt like he can help guide Harrison with his experience in the game, the 27-year-old said: “Hopefully, but you’ll have to ask him - it probably didn’t help him when we got beat 5-1.

“But I do try and talk to him and he is very receptive to things and his feet are firmly on the ground and he listens.

“He really wants to learn and because of that he has a great chance of having a great future in the game.”

Harrison, meanwhile, is enjoying having Bates alongside him at the back for Pools and the pair will be looking to get back to clean sheets on home soil this weekend.

The Black Cats defender said: “It’s good to be playing alongside Matthew.

“He does plenty of talking and has had a good career.

“Matthew is still relatively young, he is only 27, but he has had a lot of experience and keeps you right and talks to you.

“I have made a couple of mistakes but he is always there to keep me right and tell me to keep my head up.”