Trialists’ chance to be contract thrillers at Hartlepool United

Matthew Bates in action against Billingham Town. Picture by FRANK REID.

Matthew Bates in action against Billingham Town. Picture by FRANK REID.

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COLIN Cooper will give four players currently training with Hartlepool United every opportunity to win a contract, writes RICHARD MENNEAR.

Trialists Eugen Bopp and Biko Bradnock-Brennan have been with the first team squad for the past fortnight, and they have been joined this week by ex-Pools and Sunderland midfielder Tommy Miller and Michael Woods.

Both Bopp and Bradnock-Brennan played in last night’s 9-0 mauling of Northern League Second Division side Billingham Town at Bedford Terrace, but neither Miller or Woods were involved.

However, Cooper says that all four could be involved in the next friendly – away to Bradford Park Avenue on Saturday.

Shotton-born Miller, 35, is available on a free after leaving Bury at the end of last season. He has been joined at training by Harrogate Town midfielder Woods.

Cooper said: “I have offered Tommy and Michael an opportunity to come and train with us. Michael’s CV as a young player speaks for itself and he has a very high technical specification, which I like and he is a tough little cookie with it.

“He can also get a goal from midfield and is clever.

“I have known Tommy for a lot of years and he was one I earmarked in the summer as a possibility.

“While I haven’t made any decisions, and I am still looking into three or four different options, I just asked if he wanted to come into train, keep himself ticking over and be part of the group.

“For Tommy and Michael, Eugen and Biko, it is an opportunity, do what you can to grasp it and hopefully they will have long futures at Hartlepool. But that is not just down to me, we have to see enough to justify going to Russ Green and the chairman to see if we can keep them.”

Cooper was impressed by his side’s “work ethic and enthusiasm” in the victory over Billingham Town.

Pools ran riot with goals from Jack Compton, Marlon Harewood, Brad Walker, Kieran Green, a Jonathan Franks brace and a hat-trick from second-half substitute Connor Smith.

Impressed Cooper said: “I don’t really have to put tactics into place for games like this and that is no disrespect to Billingham Town.

“We just had to concentrate on what we are trying to work on and at times during the game we saw plenty of it but at times we didn’t move the ball quickly enough.

“We have loads to work on but we have done two full weeks of training now and this was our first game.

“We got everybody some minutes on the pitch and got everybody off the pitch without any injuries, the task is to get as many people to Stevenage fit and healthy.

“It was nice for young Connor and Kieran to come on and get a goal – in the case of Connor a hat-trick. The most important thing for me though, is the work ethic and the enthusiasm and the movement.”

HARTLEPOOL UTD: Flinders (Rafferty 45), Duckworth (Richards 35), Bates (Brennan 35), Austin (Nearney 45), Holden (Jones 45), Parnaby (Rowbotham 35), Walker (Hawkins 45), Bopp (Smith 65), Compton (James 35), Harewood (Green 45), Franks.