Craig Hignett believes Nathan Thomas can be a match-winner in Hartlepool United’s fight for Football League survival.
The box-of-tricks winger was in inspired form, again on Tuesday night when he almost inspired Pools to a dream comeback against Notts County.
Pools lost 3-2 to the Magpies, a damaging result to their League Two safety hopes, but Thomas was at times unplayable.
Hignett is not the first to big up the 21-year-old – Ronnie Moore, the man who signed him from Mansfield last month for an undisclosed fee, not surprisingly felt the same.
But having seen Thomas have an assist on Saturday in the 2-1 win over Yeovil and then two in midweek, the new boss is keen to see more of the same – starting at Luton on Saturday.
“Nathan could be massive,” said the 46-year-old.
“He’s still only young but has bags and bags of ability going forward.
“We will work with him, he’s still got bits of his game he needs to improve on.
“But he’s a real threat and if we can get on the ball he can cause people problems.
“Whenever he was on the ball, you felt something could happen.”
Buoyed by his man-of-the-match display, Thomas is confident Craig Hignett’s side can get a result against the Hattters.
Pools have scored four times under their new manager, a back-to-fitness Billy Paynter getting two of them and Thomas two assists, including for Jake Gray’s wondergoal.
Luton’s record on home soil is not clever – only Morecambe, Dagenham & Redbridge and, inevitably, Pools have lost more on their own patch.
“Luton are a really good team,” Thomas said. “They a very solid league two team.
“They normally sell the place out and it’s always a great atmosphere at Kenilworth Road.
“But we have the individual players and the team that can cause them problems.
“Billy has obviously found a bit of form with three goals in his last three game – he is one of the best centre-forwards in the division on this form.
“With Luke [James], Jake and myself they are not going to like the pace we’ve got going forward.
“We can go and cause them problems, we just have to be solid as a tream defensively.”
Hignett did not blame the conditions for Tuesday night’s Jekyll and Hyde performance but, instead his team’s sluggish start which was in stark contrast to his debut match in charge.
“On Saturday, we started really quickly, but on Tuesday night we didn’t,” he explained.
“We have to learn from that.
“But the second half? If we play like that for the rest of the season I’ll be happy.”