COLIN Cooper was today preparing for one the busiest – and he hopes best – few days as Hartlepool United boss.
The Pools manager is holding talks with three of his transfer targets and is very close to announcing his new number two.
Cooper released two experienced campaigners at the end of last season, Andy Monkhouse and Simon Walton, while captain Antony Sweeney left last week to join League Two rivals Carlisle United.
But the 47-year-old, back behind his desk at Victoria Park following a quick summer break with his family, says he is making progress in strengthening his squad ahead of the start of pre-season training on July 1.
“I have meetings in the early part of the week with three players,” Cooper told SportMail.
“If they turn out positively I’ll be more than happy that I’ve replaced those who have left the club with better players and that’s no disrespect to the boys that have gone.
“If I don’t bag my targets then I’ll have to move on.”
Cooper would like to keep out-of-contract James Poole but says he is awaiting a response from the gifted forward player.
“I’ve not heard anything from James,” he explained.
“We made James what we felt was a fair offer judged on what he’d done in the years he’s had here and on last season.
l TURN to Page 39
“That offer had a deadline which is now here.
“It’s James’s call, we need to know what he wants to do, see what his thoughts are.”
Cooper though is very close to naming his new assistant manager.
The former Middlesbrough defender has been minus a right-hand-man since the beginning of March when Boro legend Craig Hignett left Pools to become Aitor Karanka’s assistant at the Riverside.
Cooper brought Hignett from Boro when he took the Pools post 13 months ago.
Higgy had coached at the club’s academy at Rockliffe Park where Cooper had charge of the Under 18 squad.
The Pools boss could well return to Boro for his new number two – the Championship club have a number of outstanding coaches while two of ex-boss Tony Mowbray’s backroom staff are understood to be available, Stephen Pears and Mark Proctor, who are both former Pools players.
“I hope it’s sorted over the next couple of days,” said Cooper.
“Almost everything is in place, it is just a case of sorting out the contractual formalities.
“I have a meeting with the first team staff today and hopefully, all things being equal, my new assistant manager will be a part of that.
“The guy coming in is someone who wants to work with me and come on the journey here.
“I’m ambitious and I want this club to be successful and the person coming in has the same feelings about football as me.
“He’s very loyal and knows football inside out.”
Cooper was giving no clues away though the inference was that the new man is not, like Hignett, a player from an advanced position.
“Everyone says I should be looking for someone who is an attacking coach because I was a defender,” Cooper said.
“But I think because I was a defender I know the intricacies of defending and how to coach them.
“Forward play excites me and I enjoy coaching it.
“I also like to think that as a former defender I can find ways which give defenders problems.
“All I would say is that the person coming in is someone who wants to support me and work with me.
“I need someone who is going to tell me the truth, not someone who is just going to agree with me, and that’s this guy.”