Hartlepool United’s Cooper sees bright future for young defenders

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COLIN Cooper believes that Hartlepool United now boast a defensive pairing headed for far higher plains than League Two.

Christian Burgess and Jack Baldwin were outstanding during the weekend stalemate at York City, enjoying their third outing as Cooper’s preferred centre-back partnership.

The Pools chief has forecast bright futures for the rookie duo, insisting that Middlesbrough loanne Burgess will eventually return to the Riverside as a first-team contender.

But Cooper also argues that the pair still have to prove their aptitude for the physical challenge of the lower leagues.

“Christian and Jack were outstanding on Saturday and they look like they could become a very good pairing,” he said.

“I said to them afterwards, players of their undoubted calibre have to show people that they will first of all accept a physical challenge and embrace it.

“Then what you can give after that will decide how high you can play your football.

“I firmly believe that Christian will not be too far off playing in Tony’s (Mowbray) team when he goes back.

“Jack is also learning to be a centre-half having done it at the level above last year. So he knows what it’s about and is another outstanding young talent.”

Pools were never in danger of conceding at Bootham Crescent on Saturday.

Baldwin, 20, and Burgess, 21, proved impassable at the heart of the backline as Cooper’s side collected their first point of the campaign.

Still, though, they are yet to score a goal in League Two, and Cooper says that will again be the training-ground focus ahead of Saturday’s visit of Fleetwood Town.

“Scott Flinders said he felt as though we weren’t going to concede on Saturday and I agree with him,” Cooper went on. “So that’s credit to everyone in front of him.

“But at the other end we’ve got gamble more in that 18-yard box.”