Pools boss wants Monkhouse as central spark

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Hartlepool United boss Neale Cooper has hinted that Andy Monkhouse will be converted from a left winger to a central striker on a permanent basis this season.

The 31-year-old started the second friendly of Pools’ recent tour of Holland as a deep-lying forward alongside target man Steve Howard.

It is a position in which he has been used by both Cooper and Mick Wadsworth in the past two seasons, although the player himself insists it is on the left-hand side of midfield where he is most comfortable.

But Cooper believes that Monkhouse offers more to the team in a central role, as he said today: “I know Andy likes playing out on the left but, for me, he doesn’t get a lot of crosses in and doesn’t get by people enough.

“I think he’s better through the middle.

“I think he takes the ball well and has got a good presence up there.

“He’s very good in the air and can hold the ball and bring others in.

“He’s shown as well that he’s got an eye for goal but needs to show that more often.

“But he’s come back in great shape and he’s a strong, fit boy.”

Monkhouse is one of a number of players whose place in the side is far from guaranteed, Cooper having stated he is open to persuasion when it comes to several positions.

Successive defeats in Holland disappointed the boss, although he is willing to ring-fence those losses as a fitness exercise.

Pools – who return to Maiden Castle this morning – face Sunderland at Victoria Park on Friday before entertaining Middlesbrough a week tomorrow.

And the Scot insists the forthcoming friendly matches are a chance for the likes of Monkhouse to prove their worth.

“It’s up to the lad,” said Cooper, when pressed on Monkhouse’s role this season.

“But that’s the same for all of the boys.

“If someone really impresses me in pre-season then that’s great.

“I’m still learning things about these boys.

“We’ve got a few very good friendlies coming up now and I’ll be looking for a little bit more from them between now and the start of the season.”