NO-NONSENSE Nicky Featherstone has been hailed for making an instant impact at Hartlepool United, write Richard Mennear.
The tough-tackling 26-year-old plays in the same holding midfield position Paul Murray occupied for more than 20 years, so the Pools boss is well placed to make a judgement.
He has been impressed with Featherstone’s performances in the two matches since becoming his first signing.
Goole-born Featherstone was the star performer in the 2-0 FA Cup win over East Thurrock United and also stood out in the comeback draw against Newport County.
“It is pleasing to see Nicky do well and this is a good opportunity for him,” said Murray.
“He is an assured head in the middle of the park and sees a pass, plays it in front of people and he knows what to do.
“Nicky passes the ball well and keeps us ticking over, it’s what I used to do – but he’s not as tough as me!” joked Murray who played more than 100 matches for Pools between 2010 and 2013.
Murray was well aware of the job Featherstone could do, having marked him as one to watch when he was assistant manager at Oldham Athletic.
The Cumbrian added: “I knew him from his time at Walsall.
“When I was at Oldham I did all the analysis and he was always one who we had to stop.
“I knew what he would give us – he’s only given two passes away in two games so far.
“To get someone with steel and be good on the ball is difficult, difficult to get people to come down to our level at the bottom.
“So you get the best you can and I think I’ve got the best I can,” said Murray, who was speaking ahead of today’s trip to Southend United in Sky Bet League Two.
Featherstone - who started his career with local team Hull City - had been without a permanent club since his summer release by League One Walsall, having also featured for League One Scunthorpe United on a week to week basis.
The 26-year-old joined the Iron after impressing on trial, signing non-contract terms at Glanford Park and was on the bench for their Capital One Cup second round clash with Reading.
But his deal was cancelled, leaving Featherstone to find a new club.
Joining the midfielder at Pools is Sidney Schmeltz, and Murray has been pleased with his first two signings in management.
Murray knew the 25-year-old Dutchman from his time at Oldham, Schmeltz made 17 appearances for the Latics last season before moving on to Shrewsbury.
He added: “The new boys have done well.
“Sidney has showed what he can do, he played a different role last week against East Thurrock, playing off Marlon [Harewood] up front, but did okay.
“There’s more to come from both of them.”