Hartlepool United to have ‘95%’ of squad in place for pre-season

Craig Harrison

Craig Harrison

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Craig Harrison says he will have “95%” of his squad in place when Hartlepool United report for pre-season training.

Pools return to work next Monday when many of the players will be meeting their new gaffer for the first time.

We’ll have 95% of our squad there for the start of pre-season training which is important.

CRAIG HARRISON

Harrison has already made five signings – Scott Loach, Luke George, Ryan Donaldson, Jack Munns and Jake Cassidy – all of whom look very good acquisitions.

The manager hopes Rhys Oates and Brad Walker join Carl Magnay in agreeing new contracts.

But Harrison told SportMail he is aiming to get one or two more deals across the line before Monday.

“I’m working hard to try to do that,” said the former TNS manager.

“I am hoping we’ll get one or two more in.

“We’ll have 95% of our squad there for the start of pre-season training which is important.

“We might the add one or two more after pre-season has started.

“Ideally, I’ll do everything in my power to get everyone in for the 26th.”

Should he want any more signings – and be permitted them – he can do it well into the season because the National League is not constrained by the transfer deadline.

But Harrison will use the loan market and hopes to gain talent from Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Sunderland.

Players from all of the North East big three joined Pools at some point last season and he will certainly be looking to twist the arm of new Boro manager, Garry Monk.

The two bosses, both in their late 30s, each managed successfully in Wales – Harrison with the all-conquering TNS and Monk going great guns for a while with Swansea.

Harrison had also hoped to tap into another good acquaintance, Derek McInnes, who had looked nailed on to be the next Sunderland chief, until pulling out of the race.

“I know how it works with the loan market with clubs reluctant to commit early to releasing players,” he said.

“I will be looking to tap into Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Newcastle.

“Middlsbrough have appointed a manager I know and get a long with well.

“I did my UEFA licence in Wales with Garry and I’ve kept in touch with him – he was always nice in sending messages after TNS did well and I did the same with his teams.

“I knew Derek well from taking TNS up to Scotland where we have done our Champions League preparations for the last few years.

“We played his team and it’s funny, we only spoke last month about TNS playing Aberdeen again.”

Harrison is now going to have to wait to see who gets the reins at the Black Cats, who appear to be in the process of a possible takeover.

But Pools will hope all three North-East clubs will assist for their National League promotion push.