Neale Cooper’s delighted to go Dutch with Hartlepool United

Have your say

MANAGER Neale Cooper has welcomed confirmation of Hartlepool United’s return to Holland – admitting it will be the ideal chance for new signings and young pros to bed into his squad, writes CRAIG HOPE.

Pools will jet out to Amsterdam ahead of their first friendly match against Telstar on Sunday, July 15 (kick off 7pm). They will then take on Almere City on Wednesday, July 18 (kick off 7pm).

Both games will take place in the town of Heiloo at the same venues used by Mick Wadsworth’s side last summer.

With two months until Pools head off on their pre-season tour, there is ample time for Cooper to reshape his squad before then, and he hopes to have at least four or five new faces on the flight to Schiphol.

Added to that will be first-year seniors Nathan Buddle, Josh Rowbotham, Lewis Hawkins, Greg Rutherford and Darren Holden.

And Cooper said he’s looking forward to the Euro getaway.

“These trips are always great for bonding among the boys after a summer when you maybe haven’t seen that much of each other,” the Scot said today.

“I’d far rather go away than stay at home and it’s great that the club have this in place.

“By the time we go away we’ll hopefully have a few new faces in as well and that’s the ideal chance for them to get settled straight into the squad.

“We’ve got the young pros coming through as well and it’ll be just as important for them to enjoy that sort of environment with the senior lads for the first time.

“I always loved pre-season tours when I was a player and I’m really looking forward to this one.”

Pools’ first opponents will be Telstar with the game taking place on the grass pitch at Voetbalveld Stabilitas.

Managed by former Southampton boss Jan Poortvliet, they finished 14th in the second tier of Dutch football last term.

Almere City finished one place higher last term and they will provide the opposition at the artificial playing surface of Stadium “de Basis” three days later.

And Cooper anticipates two competitive games. “The games are always fairly tight over there and this year should be no different,” he added. “It’s a good month before the start of our season but it’ll be a good test for us and I think we’ll get a lot out of it.”