Transfer frustration growing for Hartlepool boss Cooper

Tommy Miller in action against Whitby Town. Picture by Frank Reid
Tommy Miller in action against Whitby Town. Picture by Frank Reid
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COLIN Cooper insists he is doing all he can to add new faces to his Hartlepool United squad, which he knows is too small.

But the patient Pools manager said he is faced with transfer targets not wanting to commit until the last minute.

Cooper is keen to add a further four new signings to his squad, with a mix of loan and permanent signings, before the Sky Bet League Two season kicks off at Stevenage on August 9.

An experienced midfielder is one area he is looking to strengthen and former Premier League midfielders Jonathan Greening and David Prutton are on his radar, with the former the likelier to sign.

One experienced midfielder currently training with the club, ex-Pools and Sunderland man Tommy Miller, played in Saturday’s 2-1 friendly defeat to Whitby Town and a decision on his future could be made within the next 48-hours.

But on his other targets, Cooper said: “We have calls in and we have people currently umming and ahhing.

“But the honest truth about the transfer window is that people don’t want to commit until as late as possible.

“Without any disrespect, we are where we are geographically and in terms of the league pyramid.

“I had a lot of targets on the board over the summer and so far I have acquired two from that list (Matthew Bates and Stuart Parnaby) so I am happy with that.

“If I can pick another one off, then I will really have done pretty well on that target list.

“Other than that, we have work ongoing in the background.

“In terms of the loan window, Championship and Premier League clubs will want their players placing before the season kicks-off.

“I would suggest, therefore, that players will start to commit in the next 10 days and then we will have some decisions one way or another and hopefully some new additions.”

Miller has featured in the last three pre-season matches – Bradford Park Avenue, Sunderland and Whitby.

Cooper added: “I spoke to Tommy on Friday and said to him we are here as long as you want.

“My advice to him was to play 45 minutes against Whitby Town in a more advanced position and, in the first half, I thought he was smashing.

“There will be a point where he will need an answer, though. I have basically said you can train Monday and Tuesday and I can give you some more minutes against Middlesbrough (on Wednesday), if that is what you want.

“If the opposite is you want an answer Monday or Tuesday then we will sit down and have a chat.”

Seventeen-year-old Connor Smith opened the scoring for Pools at Whitby, but the home side – managed by ex-Sunderland defender Darren Williams – hit back to win with a brace from Chris Lynch either side of half-time.

Cooper said: “This was a game we should be winning – there is no two ways about that.

“Connor got himself another goal, four for him in pre-season (after a hat-trick at Billingham Town) in the two games he has played and that is really encouraging.

“You could see in the second half when he does a couple of things wrong he got really angry and frustrated with himself but he should really be patting himself on the back. Everybody makes mistakes.

“Lewis is in his early 20s and isn’t a kid anymore but he has talent and can manipulate the football.

“He takes a few too many touches from time to time and on a pitch like that, where the grass is a little longer and it is a bit sticky under foot, he has to learn when to take touches and when to move the ball a bit quicker.”

Cooper also called on his younger players to look for different ways of carving teams open.

He added: “To be fair to Whitby, they dropped off us, made two banks of four and made it hard for us to play inbetween.

“If a team does that, yes you have a lot of possession, but you still have to try and create things.

“Instead of playing it through the middle, start using the flanks a bit more or balls over the top and stretching their defence.

“For the younger players though, that is all about learning and I want them to try and play the game in the right way.”