Miller wins Cooper praise on Hartlepool return

Tommy Miller in action against Bradford Park Avenue. Picture by Frank Reid
Tommy Miller in action against Bradford Park Avenue. Picture by Frank Reid
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COLIN Cooper has praised the impact of Tommy Miller but the future of two other trialists is expected to be confirmed today.

Midfielder Eugen Bopp and defender Biko Bradnock-Brennan have been training with Hartlepool United since the players returned to pre-season, including the week-long training camp in Spain.

They both featured in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Conference North side Bradford Park Avenue, with Bradnock-Brennan impressing at the back.

But whether his performances have convinced Cooper to take the plunge is expected to be confirmed by the club today.

Defence is an area of reasonable strength and the Pools manager may instead look to the loan market for defensive cover while using money left in the budget for permanent reinforcements further up the pitch.

Bopp played an hour against Park Avenue and while he looked steady, questions remain over whether he is better than the current squad members at Cooper’s disposal.

Cooper and his assistant Stephen Pears were deep in conversation with both players on the pitch after the game as the rest of the squad made

their way to the coach.

On the pitch, a 78th minute strike from Jonathan Franks secured a second successive pre-season friendly win for Pools, in a game which

also saw Miller and fellow trialist Michael Woods play 30 minutes.

Cooper praised the impact of experienced Miller, who left Pools for Ipswich Town back in 2001 for a record £750,000 sale, but thought Woods - who has impressed in training - was trying “too hard”.

“Tommy looked lively, which I was pleased with,” Cooper said. “Having known they had only been training a few days my question to them was do you feel ready for half an hour on Saturday?

“Both of them were very keen to do that.

“Tommy has played a good level of football all his career and you can see the intelligence and he has the intensity that I like.

“When he was a kid, charging forward and score goals, it was probably just a natural without thought process.

“You can see when he plays now he is thinking and encourages the younger players and still has the fitness levels to more than capably play at our level.

“Michael I thought, tried too hard. He is a very good footballer and can hit 50-yard passes.

“I wanted to see what he had been doing in training, popping it round corners, playing one twos and looking like the clever footballer I know he is.

“He desperately wanted to do well on Saturday.”

Shotton-born Miller, 35, is available on a free after leaving Bury while Woods, a former Leeds United and Chelsea player, was at Harrogate Town last season.

Cooper added: “ If they want a couple of games and a couple weeks of training I can give them that.

“If they want a quick decision then I am basing it on very small amounts of training and game time.

“If I can keep Tommy and Michael for a couple of weeks longer it makes the decision easier because I will have seen more of them.

“I know what they are both about, it is whether they will benefit us in the longer term.”

So far, Pools have seen off two non-league sides Billingham Town 9-0 and Bradford Park Avenue.

Cooper was happy to get the win but said the players need to improve. He said: “I said it at half-time and at the end, the things we are trying to improve on we just didn’t do well enough.

“But first and foremost they have won the game and the goal itself is much more what I am looking for.

“Bits and pieces of play were good but everybody will be honest and just say on the whole, we need to get better.”