COLIN Cooper admits that the situation concerning striker Steve Howard needs to be resolved this weekend.
The Pools boss has asked the club’s hierarchy to determine the future of the 37-year-old before Monday.
Howard is thought to want away from Victoria Park having spent the back end of last season on loan at Sheffield Wednesday.
And, given that the frontman is the highest earner at Clarence Road, Cooper is keen for a swift resolution.
“Listen, if we’re all honest, then Stevie is still here and that situation needs resolving – we have asked if that can be resolved this weekend,” Cooper told SportMail today.
“Is Stevie going to stay?
“If so then I think he has to get his head down and be the talisman for the team.
“So if Stevie sorts himself and decides that he wants to be a Hartlepool player, which we’ve said from day one we hope he does, then he can get 20 goals in this league no problem.
“If he doesn’t then hopefully it gives us an option to solve the problem somewhere else.”
It appears likely that Howard will part ways with the club, either by means of a mutual agreement or through transfer elsewhere.
Pools again failed to score at the Vic during last night’s 1-0 defeat at home to Preston North End – in which Jack Comtpon missed a second-half penalty and Howard did not appear – and Cooper is determined to add firepower to his ranks before Saturday’s season opener at Rochdale.
“If we’re going to get anywhere near this season then we need someone who is going to score us 15 to 20 goals,” he went on.
“We haven’t got that at the moment – that’s a fact.
“Whether we can mould one or get one before transfer deadline we’ll have to see.
“We’re pretty close to our Financial Fair Play limit.
“But talks are ongoing on several fronts and we’re still hopeful.”
Meanwhile, Cooper has confirmed that Middlesbrough defender Christian Burgess will join Pools on loan until Christmas.
The 21-year-old centre-back is some way down the pecking order at the Riverside but has been tipped for a first-team future on Teesside.