Hartlepool United striker Luke James returns to training after going AWOL

Luke James in action against Dagenham and Redbridge. Picture by FRANK REID
Luke James in action against Dagenham and Redbridge. Picture by FRANK REID

HARTLEPOOL United striker Luke James has returned to training with the club.

The highly rated 19-year-old hadn’t been seen at Pools since last Tuesday night’s 2-0 defeat to Dagenham & Redbridge, after which he handed in a second transfer request.

After the squad was given last Wednesday off, James didn’t show up for training on Thursday or Friday and was then subsequently left out of the squad for the 2-1 victory at Wimbledon on Saturday - a game which saw Pools record their first win of the season thanks to second-half goals from on-loan Boro striker Charlie Wyke and Marlon Harewood.

Speaking after the match, manager Colin Cooper expressed his disappointment and frustration about the James situation.

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The team was given Bank Holiday Monday off as an extra rest day and they returned to training this morning at the club’s Maiden Castle base in Durham and James was among the players.

The striker has been strongly linked with a big money move to League One side Posh. Darren Ferguson has already had a bid for the forward rejected – although it is understood to be not close to the £1m mark reported – with Pools describing the offer as “unacceptable”.

Cooper was expecting to sit down with James last Thursday for talks but he never turned in for work.

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Speaking after the Dons victory, Cooper said: “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 Saturday and hadn’t turned up to training at Maiden Castle with the other lads who hadn’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.”

James has, though, now returned to work and trained with the squad this morning.

Club officials wouldn’t comment on whether he would face disciplinary action for missing three days last week. At the weekend, Cooper said he was “within his rights” to fine the want-a-way striker though.