RONNIE Moore will turn his attentions elsewhere after it was confirmed Hartlepool United won’t be signing convicted rapist Ched Evans.
There was widespread condemnation following the 1-1 draw with Oxford United after Moore confirmed to SportMail that there was a “possibility” Evans could sign.
Evans, 25, was released in October after serving half of a five-year sentence for the rape of a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room in 2011.
The possibility of Evans’ arrival divided supporters and made national headlines before Pools confirmed they would not be signing the Welshman.
The 61-year-old manager will now look elsewhere to add experience through the spine of his struggling team.
Moore told SportMail: “We are lining things up and speaking to a lot of managers and agents.
“But it is hard to get an experienced centre-back, midfielder and striker.
“We need a leader at the back and getting two if we can. We do need help there and a striker too.”
That won’t, however, be former Sheffield United striker Evans.
When asked to respond on Saturday night to strong rumours Evans was on the verge of signing, Moore told SportMail: “If it could happen for me, I would want it to happen.
“There is no doubt about that. He is a proven goalscorer.
“He has served his time for me and the boy wants to play football.
“If there is a chance that he might come here, and I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t.
“It is a possibility, I would leave it at that for now.”
But following the strong backlash, the club moved to distance themselves, releasing a statement and adding they regretted any “upset” that may have been caused.
It read: “1. Hartlepool United do not intend signing Ched Evans and, for the avoidance of doubt, will not be doing so, irrespective of his obvious ability as a football player.
“2. This story has emerged following an unsubstantiated internet rumour which the manager was asked to comment upon. The manager responded hypothetically to the situation by stating “if it could happen I would want it to happen”.
“This response was based upon the player’s obvious ability as a footballer and as such as then been headlined by the media without asking the club for their official position.
“3. The club can fully understand the concerns of supporters and the general public and regrets any misconception portrayed.
“4. After a highly positive week at Hartlepool United following the takeover by new owners and the appointment of a new manager, the owners are saddened by this unfortunate turn of events and wish to draw a line under it immediately.”
Chairman Peter Harris added: “We are upset at the manner in which this story has escalated and wish to make it clear that the player will not be joining the club.
“All we are concentrating on is league survival and do not want anything to upset that goal.
“The club regrets any upset that may have been caused but we feel we must deal with this matter quickly and put the story to bed once and for all.”