Hartlepool United boss thrilled to keep 15-goal Billy Paynter

Billy Paynter: 15-goal striker. Picture by FRANK REID

Billy Paynter: 15-goal striker. Picture by FRANK REID

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Craig Hignett today spoke of his delight at keeping Billy Paynter at Hartlepool United.

Pools have announced their released and retained lists, with their captain marvel the stand-out name on the group remaining at Victoria Park.

The two Scotts, Fenwick and Harrison, and centre-half, Harry Worley, were all let go by Pools, but Hignett has exercised contract clauses to keep a number of his key men, notably Paynter, Matthew Bates, Jake Carroll, Carl Magnay, Rhys Oates and Brad Walker.

Paynter has had a superb debut season at Pools scoring 15 goals and attracting the interest of a number of clubs.

“Billy had a year’s option left on his contract and we’ve exercised that clause,” Hignett told SportMail. “He has been fantastic for us, he’s been a great captain and he’s fabulous in the dressing room.

“And he’s scored 15 goals as well!

“Keeping Billy is massive for Hartlepool United and I’m delighted he’s staying.”

Pools had begun their contract work last month, tying keepers Trevor Carson and Adam Bartlett to new deals, along with defender Josh Nearney and midfielder Lewis Hawkins.

Nicky Fetherstone put pen to paper on Tuesday before Pools released three players on Wednesday.

Teenage keeper Peter Denton, midfielder Ebby Nelson-Addy and winger Kudus Oyenuga were the first three to be let go, with Fenwick, Harrison and Worley learning their fates yesterday.

Fenwick is the joint second top scorer but has made only three sub appearances under Hignett, while Harrison played only once for him, a forgetable night at Bristol Rovers. Injury-plagued Worley has not played since September 5 at Wycombe.

“It’s not a nice thing to have to do, but it’s part and parcel of the job,” admitted Hignett.

“But’s something that has to happen.

“I really like all the lads at the club and every one of them has been first class since I came in.

“Those lads I’ve not been able to give any game-time to, I have never had a minute’s problem with.”

More could yet depart Clarence Road, with Hignett still in discussions with five players, Rakish Bingham, Michael Duckworth, Dan Jones, Rob Jones and Michael Woods.

Released: Peter Denton, Scott Fenwick, Scott Harrison, Ebby Nelson-Addy, Kudus Oyenuga, Harry Worley

Retained: Matthew Bates, Jake Carroll, Kieran Green, Carl Magnay, Rhys Oates, Billy Paynter, Jordan Richards, Connor Smith, Brad Walker