HARTLEPOOL boss Neale Cooper hopes to “excite” the Victoria Park fans by unleashing a strikeforce of Luke James and Ryan Noble on title-chasing Sheffield United in League One tomorrow.
Should 17-year-old James prove his fitness at training today then the Pools boss looks set to pitch him straight into the starting line-up alongside Sunderland loanee Noble.
The pair, both blessed with a blistering turn of foot, have to yet to feature together in the blue and white with James having missed the last seven matches because of growing pains in his back.
In that time, 20-year-old Noble has been recruited in a bid to solve Pools’ scoring crisis and last weekend at Yeovil Town he smashed the only goal of the game to bring to an end nearly eight hours without register.
And Cooper admits that seeing the rookie duo in tandem is certain to thrill the home crowd ahead of the visit of Danny Wilson’s second-placed Yorkshiremen.
“If Luke is available then what a bonus that would be,” the first-team coach said.
“The thing with Luke is that he’s very fit naturally – he’s got lungs like Tony Sweeney, four of them!
“Luke has a raw playing style anyway so I’d have no worries about starting him if he’s okay and says he’s ready. So I will speak to him and decide today.
“If we do have Luke back then it would be him on the right with Ryan through the middle and Andy (Monkhouse) supporting. But together I’m sure they (James and Noble) would excite the fans.
“They’d give us that enthusiasm and pace up front.
“Ryan is deceptively quick and can play on the shoulder. So can Luke, and he can get at players as well.
“They’ve both got goals in them as well and that’s brilliant because we all know how we’ve struggled in recent weeks in that respect.”
Elsewhere, Peter Hartley is rated as 50-50 for the game having been stretchered off at Yeovil with what at the time was a suspected broken leg.
However, the injury proved nowhere near as serious as feared and it now looks as if he has an outside chance of figuring against the Blades.
Cooper explained: “We really suspected his leg was broken last Saturday, but thankfully it was not.
“That’s a relief because he’s been excellent and he’s got a chance of playing tomorrow.”