Neale Cooper set to give Darren Holden a starting role

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HARTLEPOOL boss Neale Cooper looks set to hand Darren Holden his first start in over a year for tomorrow’s final home match of the season against Leyton Orient.

The 18-year-old made his full debut during last Easter’s 1-1 draw with Tranmere Rovers at Victoria Park.

He had to wait more than 12 months for his next appearance – ironically, in last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Tranmere.

Holden signed his first professional contract earlier this month and, after impressing during the final half hour at Prenton Park, he could now come in for the visit of the East Londoners.

“I want to put a strong team out,” said Cooper, aware of the fact that Orient, four points above the drop zone, are still fighting for League One survival.

“There’s a lot at stake for Leyton so we need to be at our best and they’ll be fired up for it because they’re still in it.

“So I’ve got to think of that and I don’t think our younger lads have done enough yet, but maybe Darren could come in. I thought he did well when he came on last Saturday.

“He gave us something different, something that we lack. He had a go and I like that because, by all accounts, he hasn’t had the best year. But he came on and tried to take his chance so good on him.”

If Holden is thrown a start then it will most likely be in midfield or high on the left, the position from which he caused problems for the Rovers backline last weekend.

Evan Horwood (knee) and Sam Collins (calf) both missed out on Merseyside but could return, although a doubt remains over the latter.

Striker Luke James, though, looks set to be rested. The 17-year-old cut a jaded figure at Tranmere and was replaced by Holden on the hour mark.