Stockport County have signed highly-rated striker James Hooper on a month’s loan from League One side Rochdale
The teenage front man has made two appearances for Dale’s first-team, and has just completed a month-long loan to County`s league rivals FC United of Manchester, where he scored one goal in three appearances – a vital equaliser for the Rebels in their 1-1 draw at Tamworth last month.
Hooper, who turned pro in April 2015, said: “It’s a fantastic move for me because I used to come and watch County when I was younger, growing up in Altrincham, so to have the chance now to come here and play in front of such a massive crowd at Edgeley Park is a great opportunity for me.
“The move came about partly through Mike Flynn who coaches at Rochdale, but also my manager Keith Hill who is keen for me to go out and get more games. I’m in my second year at Spotland so it’s all about game time now.”
Hooper is a confident, attacking player who is hoping to take some of the pressure – and the spotlight – off top scorer Danny Lloyd.
Hooper said: “I’m a left-footed player but I like to play on the right and I’m always looking to use my pace and to cut inside. I’ve always been passionate about goal scoring; I just think football can be a bit boring if you’re not scoring goals!”
It promises to be a real family affair when Hooper makes his home debut at Edgeley Park: “My mum and dad have always been very supportive,” he said. “They’ve spent years travelling all over the place to watch me, and then there’s my uncle, my granddad and my girlfriend who will probably all be there to support me, too, if I can get enough tickets!
“Having trained with the boys this week, I just can’t wait to get started – the quality of the coaching is different class and there are some really good players in this squad, so it’s a really exciting time to be coming to County.”
In 2014/15 James scored 23 goals for Rochdale’s youth team, which brought him to the attention of scouts from Norwich City.
The 19-year-old right-sided attacker will be available for County’s visit to Chorley this weekend, and County have also negotiated a deal which will allow him to play in the Emirates FA Cup, as well.
County boss James Gannon said: “James is a player we’re pleased to be able to bring in. We have been looking hard for a fit, pacey, direct, wide attacker with an eye for goals to play off our right flank and James fits the bill perfectly.
If you like, a Danny Lloyd off the right! We have a good squad of players that I have a lot of confidence in but since the injuries to both Adam Thomas and Adam Etches we have been wanting to add extra pace, penetration and goals to add to our current wide attacks and wing play.
“The next month has a small number of games but it has some big league matches coming up and a massive FA Cup First Round game against Woking. So it’s great to add James into the squad for those games. I’m grateful to Rochdale allowing him to play in the FA Cup which has become a big competition for us. His availability for that game is a huge plus for both us and James, as it will be a special game to be involved in.
“Fortunately, extra revenue generated by our FA Cup run is being made available to the playing budget and allowing me the scope to take a broader look at our squad and consider options to strengthen the team. We will be making some adjustments in the next few weeks as we look to keep improving the shape of our squad”.