Hartlepool boss hails Crystal Palace star’s form as talks continue over Luke James return

Jake Gray

Jake Gray

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Ronnie Moore will continue his quest for a new forward – but the Hartlepool United boss is happy to see Jake Gray on form.

Pools have been linked with a loan move for ex-striker Luke James, who is currently on a season-long loan deal at Bradford City from Peterborough United.

While Pools are still trying to negotiate an agreement with Posh, Moore is happy that Gray is finding the net.

After scoring twice in his second appearance for Pools, Gray then went five games without finding the net.

But the Crystal Palace prospect has scored twice in his last four outings to mark the extension of his stay at Victoria Park until the end of the season.

Gray looks at ease in either a 4-3-3 formation or, more recently, in a 4-4-1-1, playing in the gap between midfield and Scott Fenwick against Wycombe and behind Ellis Harrison at Cambridge.

The latter system looks tailor-made for the 21-year-old as Moore agrees.

“Jake can play in a three as well, no problem,” said Moore, who will be looking to build on Saturday’s display against Cambridge when Pools play host to Exeter at the weekend.

“But it’s the freedom and movement he has in there, which is so good.

“Jake has good and quick feet and he’s a clever player.

“He can drop deep, pick up balls and he’s a silky runner and can go by people.

“He did get a goal at Cambridge but will have been gutted not to get another two goals at least.

“Jake missed a chance at the start of the second half – a lad of his standard should have scored.

“That was an easier chance than the one he scored, but he made up for it later on.”

Midfielder Michael Woods created both those openings for Gray and Moore said he was impressed with all his central midfielders.

“Woodsy was back to where he should be,” he said.

“He was part of a good three with Nicky and Jake.

“Nicky sits while Woodsy and Jake create.”