Striker Oates can be Hartlepool United’s wide boy

Rhys Oates fires Hartlepool United in front against Barnet. Picture by Frank Reid
Rhys Oates fires Hartlepool United in front against Barnet. Picture by Frank Reid
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Rhys Oates was brought to Hartlepool United as a striker but is fast showing signs of making it as a wide midfielder.

The 20-year-old, signed on a free transfer from Barnsley in the summer, found the net for the first time in Pools colours when he scored in the 1-1 draw against Barnet in midweek.

Boss Ronnie Moore will be patient with the young prospect who is enjoying his longest run in the Football League.

But he feels Oates will continue going in the right direction and will be a vital figure if Pools are to become a top-half team.

“He’s worked hard,” said Moore. “He’s playing in a position he has never played before.

“He’s a striker but we looked at him and thought we’d be able to develop in that role.

“Oatesy will have days when he’ll run past people for fun.

“But there will be days when he runs and trip over!

“This is a learning curve for a young kid.”

Oates will have good and bad days as Moore correctly points out.

The young Yorkshireman was a provider against Luton for Billy Paynter but then struggled at Northampton Town seven days later.

It was steady stuffy at Dagenham last weekend, but then he followed that with a sparkling show against Barnet.

He raced from his own box to the opposition area to put Pools ahead and could easily have gone on bag a hat-trick.

Oates saw what looked a certain second stopped on the line by defender Gavin Hoyte while in injury time a combination of sum Michael Nelson and keeper Jamie Stephens kept out a header from a Jason Banton corner.

“The goal was great football from the back to the front,” said Moore.

“I’m so pleased for Rhys – he’s not a winger, but we feel we can develop him there.

“He’s deserved his goal for the work he puts in and it would have been great if one of the others had gone in.”

Oates will again be on the right again this Saturday when Pools take on Crawley Town at Victoria Park.

Moore went with an unchanged side against Barnet on Tuesday and, given the “pluses” of the performance may choose the same XI against the Red Devils.

Brad Walker’s place could be under threat though, having given the teenager his opportunity, Moore may be reluctant to withdraw him after just two games.

Moore also made a lot of alterations to his side at Dagenham and might not wish to chop and change further.