Parnaby happy to be Pools’ middle man

Stuart Parnaby
Stuart Parnaby
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STUART Parnaby insists playing in central midfield is “nothing new” to him and he is looking forward to starting the season well with Hartlepool United.

The 32-year-old signed for Pools this summer and most fans expected to see him deployed in defence – not operating in front of the last line.

But so far manager Colin Cooper has been using the former Middlesbrough and Birmingham player in the central midfield berth, alongside Brad Walker and, in more recent matches, Tommy Miller, with Michael Duckworth retaining the right-back berth that he has made his own since joining the club last summer.

Given Duckworth’s contribution at full-back last season – with Parnaby admitting “he was brilliant from I’ve heard” – it is perhaps not a surprise to see Parnaby used elsewhere in the team.

For his part though, Parnaby said: “I just want to play wherever the manager plays me.

“I enjoy playing right side, I enjoy playing in the middle.

“It’s all about getting games under my belt.”

With fellow new signing Matthew Bates partnering the versatile Neil Austin in central defence for the majority of pre-season, Parnaby does not expect to be moved into central defence any time soon either.

Parnaby, looking forward to Saturday’s League Two opener away to relegated Stevenage added: “Midfield’s where I’ve played all of the pre-season games.

“If that’s where I end up playing, then I’m happy there and I’m comfortable.

“I’ll be learning the position as I go.

“But I’ve played there when I was young at Middlesbrough, so it’s nothing new for me.”

Parnaby and Bates bring with them a wealth of experience to Pools’ squad, having played in the Premier League, Championship and Europe – Parnaby, a former England U21 international, having played in Boro’s run to the UEFA Cup final in 2006.

Operating in the midfield brings with it the extra burden of having to create chances for the front men.

But confident Parnaby did not express any concern that attacking forays have, on the whole, been rather infrequent during the summer friendlies.

Indeed, he has backed Cooper’s front pairing of Marlon Harewood and Luke James to find their goalscoring boots.

He added: “I’d like to create 10 chances if we can.

“If it takes one really good chance and we score then it’s a matter of keeping a clean sheet.

“We work on everything each day – finishing, defending.

“If we can defend well and nick the odd goal we have a half chance.

“We have Marlon (Harewood) and Luke (James) scored a hatful last season so if we can get him off and running then we’re laughing.”