Hartlepool United do not need to flog young stars

ATTRACTING INTEREST: Jack Baldwin celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Morecambe. Picture by FRANK REID
ATTRACTING INTEREST: Jack Baldwin celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Morecambe. Picture by FRANK REID

THE January transfer window opened today but Hartlepool United boss Colin Cooper won’t be welcoming any bids for his “outstanding” young players.

Cooper admits while he won’t stand in the way of players progressing their careers, he said is likely to be “batting off” would-be suitors and believes their short-term future is best served at Victoria Park.

Both centre back Jack Baldwin, 20, and 19-year-old striker Luke James have attracted interest from Sunderland this season, while the scouts list is getting longer every week as clubs run their eyes over the Pools players.

But Cooper said Pools are in a position where they don’t have to do anything.

The 46-year-old said he doesn’t see any reason to sell unless chairman Ken Hodcroft and chief executive Russ Green receive a bid too good to turn down.

Cooper said: “I read a couple of tweets that someone said because Luke [James] didn’t play the other day that we had a bid lined up and he was going in January.

“We don’t have to do anything because our club is run well and we don’t have to make up a [financial] deficit.

“If we choose that it is right for the club, right for the player, then we make that choice. We are not forced to do anything.

“I don’t see any reason why we can’t keep this group unless somebody comes in

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with something stupid which makes us listen.”

The Pools gaffer knows the situation only too well as he went through the same scenario when he was a player, at Middlesbrough, Millwall and Nottingham Forest.

The Trimdon-born defender moved from neighbours Boro to Millwall for £300,000 in 1991, then on to Forest for £1.7million before heading back to Boro from Nottingham Forest for £2.5m in 1998.

Cooper added: “I had it through my career and I wasn’t their age.

“I had people saying ‘We can’t turn that money down for you Coops and as much as we want to keep you, your career has to progress’.

“We don’t have to [sell], but what I won’t do is stop progression for an outstanding young footballer who deserves to go.

“But the one thing I would say is while they are playing as they are and gelling as a group, if say somebody was to go to the Championship, are they going to be playing every week?

“Probably not.

“The best thing they can do is continue their development here.”