COLIN Cooper has not given up hope of Matty Dolan returning to Hartlepool United before the end of the season.
The Pools boss seemed somewhat shocked that Dolan was recalled by Middlesbrough following three highly-productive months for the 20-year-old at his hometown club.
After Cooper had secured the services of central defender Christian Burgess for the remainder of the season and had banked on a similar arrangement for the midfielder.
It seemed it was nothing personal – Ryan Brobbel was brought back to Boro from a loan stint at York City.
Boro head coach Aitor Karanka said that he wanted to get a look at all the club’s players who are out of contract this summer.
Dolan trained with the Boro first-team on Wednesday and was with the U21 squad yesterday and is likely to feature in the development side on Wednesday against Arsenal in the Barclays U21 Premier League at Rockliffe Park.
Cooper, while frustrated by the loss of Dolan, hopes it is not the end of his association with Pools.
“Boro have called Matty back as they have their other players who are out of contract in the summer,” said the former Boro defender and coach.
“I thought we had a deal in place where Matty’s loan would be extended.
“But that has not happened and I am going to have to take that on the chin.
“Aitor Karanka has not had the opportunity to watch them with his own eyes.
“Matty will be assessed over a period of time is how it was described to me.
“As much as I would loved to have kept him, at the end of the day, we were only loaning him.
“Mr Karanka will look at him to see if he has a future at Middlesbrough, but, from Matty’s point of view, it is something he’ll want to do – he’s been at the club since he was nine years old.
“Christian is a different kettle of fish, he’s got another year left on his contract.
“What they are saying is that they want to view Matty day to day in training and in a couple of Under 21 games.
“Then they will assess what his future may or may not be at Middlesbrough.
“He’s more than welcome to come back here if that doesn’t work out.
“He knows that and Middlesbrough know that.”
Simon Walton, with whom Dolan enjoyed a super midfield alliance during the team’s climb from the bottom to mid-table will replace him tomorrow against Rochdale at Victoria Park.
Walton had lost his spot to teen sensation Brad Walker for the Boxing Day trip to Chesterfield but now returns sooner than he probably anticipated.