SAM Collins was just as pleased to see Peter Hartley committing his future to Hartlepool United as he was to sign his own new deal.
The pair have formed a sound understanding at the heart of the rearguard over the past 10 months and have been the fulcrum around which last season’s 19 clean sheets were achieved.
Skipper Collins began the campaign with Gary Liddle as his defensive partner, Hartley out of favour following a previous term which had included prolonged deployment in his less favoured left-back role.
However, the former Sunderland trainee came back into the picture in October and remained in the frame until the last kick of the season – missing just 38 minutes of football in between.
Hartley’s development, says Collins, has been rapid, and was worthy of the new long-term contract he penned last month.
And that is why the stalwart – who turned 34 earlier this week – is thrilled that the man who is 11 years his junior will again be at his side next season.
“Peter can have a real big future ahead of him if he carries on in the same manner,” Collins said.
“I’m really pleased he’s signed his new deal and it’s very good news for the club.
“For me I’m happy because we’ve worked hard on our partnership this year and we’ve got better as a pair over time.
“As a team we still need to cut out those games where we concede fours and fives and for whatever reason seem to collapse.
“But on the whole we’ve been very tight defensively and that shows with the 19 clean sheets, which is a brilliant return.”
Collins has willingly taken time to pass on his experience to Hartley and he anticipates that tutoring will continue during the coming season.
“I try to help Peter as much as I can and bring him on,” said the Pontefract-born centre-back.
“He’s so willing to listen and learn that he has every chance of playing at a higher level in the future.”