Cooper’s transfer plea to Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough

STAYING PUT: Steve Howard.

STAYING PUT: Steve Howard.

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COLIN Cooper admits that Hartlepool United are now dependent on the generosity of their North-East neighbours following Steve Howard’s decision to remain at the club.

With top earner Howard set to stay at Victoria Park entering the new season, Pools are operating at the limit of their wage budget with “no scope” for any outlay on transfer targets.

That has left Cooper in a position whereby he will have to convince the likes of Tony Mowbray, Alan Pardew and Paolo Di Canio that a free loan deal is to the benefit of all parties.

“There is no scope for bringing players in, that is the honest answer,” said Cooper ahead of tomorrow’s season opener at Rochdale (kick-off 3pm).

“Steve staying gives us a much better idea of what we can do budget wise.

“Where we are, we’re at the limit now.

“We’re still trying hard with our neighbours to see if they want to give us players for free.

“That is what I’m asking basically.

“If we can twist their arm to give us a player for free then great.

“If they want any kind of contribution to wages then it’s not something we can do.”

Cooper, though, believes Pools have an advantage in being able to offer the region’s bigger clubs a platform for their young players.

“Everyone has restrictions of one sort or another and every chief executive will be asking why they are giving players away for free,” he went on.

“But if they want players to play competitive football, then we are here.

“They will be sending players locally so they can keep watch on them and we will give them game time.

“Can we offer anything financially? No. But we can offer the opportunity to nurture North-East talent.

“And they will help us get to where we want to be.

“It will raise the bar for the lads who are here to increase standards.”