Sam Collins could be Hartlepool Utd caretaker for a while

Colin Cooper during the game against Carlisle United. Picture by FRANK REID
Colin Cooper during the game against Carlisle United. Picture by FRANK REID
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PLAYER-coach Sam Collins could be set for an extended stay in the Hartlepool United dugout.

The 37-year-old has been named joint caretaker boss at Pools alongside goalkeeping coach and assistant manager Stephen Pears following Colin Cooper’s decision to resign on Saturday night.

Collins is among the early frontrunners to get the manager’s job on a permanent basis and the pair will be in charge for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy match against Sheffield United tomorrow night.

It was widely expected that Collins would be stepping up to caretaker boss but the club has confirmed Pears will also remain at the club for now, at least.

Veteran defender Collins, who currently oversees the reserve team, had been given increased coaching responsibility by the club’s former manager, who stepped down after the 3-0 defeat to Carlisle United.

Collins is well respected by the club’s hierarchy but it remains to be seen whether he will be given a shot at the manager’s job on a full-time basis.

Pears, who Cooper brought into the club this summer, prefers to stay in the background but is also well respected and has helped improve the form of number one stopper Scott Flinders this season.

Pears is close friends with Cooper, the pair having played and coached together at Middlesbrough, and it would have been no surprise had he too decided to leave the club but he has agreed to stay and help prepare the first team.

The players were back in training at Maiden Castle, in Durham, on Sunday for a session led by Collins and Pears ahead of the match against Nigel Clough’s Blades tomorrow night at Victoria Park.

Pools made it through to the second round of the JPT after getting a bye in the first round.

A club statement read: “The club can confirm that Sam Collins and Stephen Pears will look after first team affairs on a temporary basis following the resignation of Colin Cooper.

“Cooper stood down as boss after 18 months following Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to Carlisle United at Victoria Park left Pools at the foot of the League Two table.

“Collins and Pears led a training session at Maiden Castle on Sunday morning and the pair will now be in charge for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy game against Sheffield United at The Vic on Tuesday.”

Collins and Pears certainly have a big job on their hands to revive the fortunes of Pools in the short term at least, with the team’s confidence at rock bottom after their latest defeat – their eighth of the season so far in just 12 matches.

Defeat to Carlisle left Pools at the foot of Sky Bet League Two with just eight points from a possible 33.

Collins, in particular, will be keen to make the most of the added responsibility.

While he has remained part of the playing staff this season, Collins has also been extending his coaching responsibilities at the club.

Speaking in Saturday’s Mail – before he handed in his notice – Cooper said he was happy for Collins to help out more with the coaching on match days.

Cooper said: “Sam is having a superb career but is really keen on the other side.

“Having seen the way he works and the reserve lads, he has a lot to offer.

“Someone gave me that opportunity when I was Sam’s age and everybody needs a leg up from time to time.”

The former Hull City defender is also working towards his A-Licence coaching qualification next summer.