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Hartlepool attacker could play up front against Sunderland
Ten goals in two seasons may not see Jonathan Franks down as a centre-forward, but the Hartlepool United attacker is making a claim for a spot in his favoured spot.
Franks has three goals in two pre-season games and will be involved tonight when Pools take on Sunderland at Victoria Park.
The former Middlesbrough trainee, who worked under Pools chief Cooper at the Riverside, has mainly been used as a right-winger at Victoria Park, but did have a central role at times last season.
And Cooper can see the merits of playing him through the middle.
“At the minute Franksy looks really sharp. Over the years his receiving skills needed to be improved and the way he thinks about football but maybe he is now thinking about things a lot more rather than just head down and dribble and see what happens,’’ reflected Cooper.
“In the last two games he has shown some really good football intelligence and on the back of that, I know he can score with his left or right foot.
“He is really putting himself in the picture, to be fair to him. He has looked lively, is trying to receive the ball on his back foot and be positive and get away from defenders.
“Franksy got his reward the other night at Billingham Town and could have scored four of five, but got over enthused about wanting to score rather than looking to slide someone else in.
“Then against Bradford Park Avenue it was a lovely tidy finish across the keeper.
“This is an important time for him because as a 24 or 25-year-old your career can go one of two ways – but he is working very hard and the goals he has scored are all credit to him.”
Franks netted three times for Boro in 30 games, before moving on loan to Yeovil where he scored three in 14.
Cooper added: “Franksy sees himself as a striker.
“Even as a 15, 16-year-old at Boro he played as a striker and I think people thought that because he didn’t grow into a 6ft 2in bloke that you stick him out on the wing because he has a bit of pace.
“Personally, I see him as someone who reacts to situations and if he is in and around the 18-yard box centrally then he can go off his right or his left.
“I spoke with him at the end of last season and he firmly believes he’d have scored more than six goals if I’d played him more regularly.
“What he is trying to do is say “I’m ready”.
“To be fair to him, he looks ready and hopefully he looks as bright the Wednesday or Thursday before we play Stevenage and then I’ll have a decision to make.”
Pools new away kit is on sale from today, with boss Colin Cooper admitting he is “overwhelmed” that the Finlay Cooper Fund logo will be on the shorts.
The Pools boss and his wife Julie set up the charity in 2006 in memory of their two-year-old son Finlay who died in a tragic choking accident in 2002 and has since raised over £300,000.
“It’s a really fantastic gesture,” Cooper said.
“When the club mentioned the idea to me and asked permission to use the logo I was overwhelmed to be honest and humbled at the same time.
“It’s an unbelievable touch and it just sharpens what I feel about this club and tells me what the people at the club think of me at this moment in time.
“It’s a very special thing for me and for everyone involved with the charity; I’m honoured that they’ve asked to do this and I would like to think it will help spread the word about what we’re trying to do.”
The players will wear the pink away kit tonight.
Tickets, available on the gate, for tonight are at £10 for adults and £5 for concessions (Under 16 / Over 60).
Pools fans will be situated in the Cyril Knowles Stand and Town End, with Sunderland in the Rink End and Niramax Stand.
Entry into the Town End will be from the Clarence Road side only. Seats in the Niramax Stand are sold out, but terrace tickets remain.