Neale Cooper pins hopes on a wing and a prayer

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NEALE Cooper will look to play a 4-4-2 system with Hartlepool United this season – and jet-heeled duo James Poole and Jonathan Franks could be his wing wonders.

The pair – both 22 years old – started each of the recent friendly matches in Holland occupying the wide-midfield positions.

Pools boss Cooper believes the former Premier League academy graduates could be the answer to his quest for energetic widemen with pace to burn and a teasing delivery to match.

On the evidence of the two games in Holland there is still work to be done, but Cooper is hoping to see more from both players in the coming weeks.

“I will look to play 4-4-2 this year, but it has to be right,” he explained.

“James could play that role on the left from what I’ve seen, and Jon can play on either wing or through the middle.

“They are both attacking-minded, but those positions require a bit of discipline as well and you’d have to put a shift in to help the full-back. But if you’ve got fitness levels like those boys have then that shouldn’t be a problem.

“But we’ll have to see what we do. It’s early days and we’re still looking at options.”

Franks became Cooper’s first signing of the summer when he joined from Middlesbrough back in May.

But Poole – who missed the bulk of Cooper’s first six months in charge because of injury – also feels like a new addition for the Scot.

“Poolie’s been one of the big surprises coming back in and has obviously been working really hard over the summer,” the Pools chief went on. “I noticed how well he did in the fitness tests and he’s really looking strong.”