COLIN Cooper has confirmed want-a-way striker Luke James has not turned up for work at Hartlepool United for the past three days.
The star striker was not included in today’s squad for the trip to AFC Wimbledon, a game Pools won 2-1, and hasn’t been seen at the club since the midweek defeat to Dagenham & Redbridge.
The squad was given Wednesday off and James was expected to sit down with Cooper on Thursday but the 19-year-old never turned in for work.
Over the last week, James has handed in two transfer requests to club officials - after the first was rejected - and he has been strongly linked with a big money move to League One side Posh.
Darren Ferguson has already had a bid for the striker rejected - although it is understood to be not close to the £1m mark reported.
Speaking after the Wimbledon game, Cooper said: “Having played against Dagenham last Tuesday, the squad had Wednesday off.
“I expected to see Luke at training on Thursday morning but he didn’t turn up and didn’t let anybody know he wasn’t coming into work.
“He did the same Friday and did the same today and hasn’t turned up to training at Maiden Castle with the other lads who haven’t travelled as part of the squad.
“I can’t answer other than he has chosen not to come to work.
“There has been a lot of things said that I am not happy about, at all.
“But the fact of the matter is that I cannot have a meeting with the player if he doesn’t turn up.”
The Pools manager has since spoken with the striker but it remains to be seen how long he will remain at the Clarence Road club.
Cooper added: “I have spoke to Luke and asked him why and that conversation remains private and I won’t go into that.
“I can’t speak for him or his nearest and dearest or people that are advising him.
“But if somebody calls me a liar or dishonest then I am going to fight back.
“The fact that Luke hasn’t turned up for work for the past three days for me, I think, is pretty bad advice.”
* See Monday’s Hartlepool Mail for the full story, reaction and pictures from the 2-1 win over the Dons.