HARTLEPOOL United boss Mick Wadsworth is adamant that James Poole is ready to be hurled straight into the rough and tumble of League One life.
The 21-year-old, who signed for Pools last month, has only made 15 senior starts during his fledgling career, having progressed through the ranks at the esteemed Manchester City youth academy.
But Wadsworth says he has no qualms about starting with the striker come the opening game of the season at MK Dons.
“If he’s playing in the first game of the season on August 6, then I’ll have no problem with that and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case,” said the Pools boss.
“It’s up to him to earn that place because we’re hoping to have a bit of competition up front this season.
“But he’s the sort of lad who will thrive on that challenge and I’m very much looking forward to working with him again.”
Poole’s sole career goal came in Hartlepool colours during last November’s 3-1 win over eventual Brighton and Hove Albion.
“I think he’s got goals in him – he’s got all of the attributes,” insisted Wadsworth.
And with Wadsworth’s men having returned the second lowest scoring tally in League One, there will be pressure on the new boy to weigh in with his share of the goals.
But the first-team coach believes that Poole has the tools to help ease his side’s scoring woes.
“We saw his goal against Brighton last season, what a terrific header that was. We’ve watched him very closely and know a lot about him now and I’ve got every confidence in him.”
He added: “He’s improved himself and I like that.
“He probably didn’t play as much as he would have liked and I didn’t play him as much as I would have liked. We were very top heavy with forwards last season and as a result I was loyal to our own lads.
“But we saw enough of James during that period to know that he’s a very talented boy.”