Hartlepool Utd hand Luke James and Michael Duckworth new contracts

Michael Duckworth in action against Sunderland. Picture by FRANK REID
Michael Duckworth in action against Sunderland. Picture by FRANK REID

Hartlepool Utd have been handed a boost with both Luke James and Michael Duckworth signing new contracts with Pools.

The lengths of contract have not been revealed by the club but are thought to keep the duo at Victoria Park for the foreseeable future.

James said: “I’m over the moon to get the new deal sorted.

“I am just so happy and now so I want to try and concentrate on the season coming up and trying to do as well as I possibly can.

“I’m buzzing to be here and to have signed the deal so now I’m just so looking forward to the season getting started,” he told the club’s website.

Duckworth said: “I’m delighted to get it all sorted out before the season and now I can totally focus on the football.

“The last year has been very good for me to be fair; it’s probably gone better than I could have expected but I know that I still have a lot of hard work to do.

“The gaffer told me that if I played well then I would be rewarded and he’s stuck to his word so hopefully now I can have a good season and repay the faith he’s shown in me,” he told the club’s website.

The highly-rated 19-year-old James was Pools’ top marksman last season when he fired 16 goals in all competitions and he went on to win both the Players’ and the Fans’ Player of the Year awards.

James, who has been with Pools since he was just 11, burst on to the scene at the end of 2011 and became the club’s youngest ever scorer in the league when he netted in spectacular fashion against Rochdale at The Vic in January 2012.

After battling from a couple of niggling injuries, the Amble-born forward scooped a huge honour when he was voted the Football League’s Apprentice of the Year for League One in 2012/13.

Last term was his best so far in terms of finding the net and, with any speculation over his future now resolved, he’ll be hoping to get back on the goals trail during 2014/15.

Right-back Duckworth originally joined Pools on trial from Bradford Park Avenue last pre-season and went on to become one of the success stories of the 2013/14 campaign.

Plucked from non-league by boss Colin Cooper, Duckworth’s strong defending allied with an adventurous attacking streak ensured he quickly became a big hit on the terraces at The Vic.

Despite suffering a couple of injury setbacks, the 22-year-old went on to make 36 appearances for the first team and now Cooper has moved to reward him for a fine debut season with a new deal.