Pools pair agree new deals and hope team-mates follow

Neil Austin  after the final whistle against Bournemouth. Picture by FRANK REID
Neil Austin after the final whistle against Bournemouth. Picture by FRANK REID

HARTLEPOOL United senior stars Neil Austin and Andy Monkhouse hope their younger team-mates will follow suit in pledging their future to the club.

That pair penned new deals at Victoria Park yesterday, becoming the first of the non-released players to sign up for next season.

Pools are still in talks with the likes of Scott Flinders, Gary Liddle, Peter Hartley and Antony Sweeney.

And Austin hopes that the early signature of himself and Monkhouse, as well as skipper Sam Collins, will persuade others to sign on the dotted line.

“I’m over the moon,” the 27-year-old told SportMail.

“I had some good, positive discussions and was pleased with how they went and I’m delighted to get my contract sorted.

“I hope that the likes of myself, Andy and Sam will lead the way because we’ve got some very good, younger players at the club.

“We’ve got a good bunch and hopefully we’ll all be together next season with a few additions as well.”

Austin was crowned Player of the Season in his maiden year at the club but has suffered an injury-fragmented campaign this time around.

He returned for the penultimate game of the season against Bournemouth, in which he skippered the side, and again enjoyed 90 minutes in the season finale at Charlton Athletic.

“My first season was fantastic and couldn’t have gone any better,” he added.

“This year I’ve had a couple of bad injuries but hopefully they’re behind me now and it’s all about looking forward and my new contract is a great way to celebrate that.”

Monkhouse, meanwhile, echoed the sentiments of Austin, adding that Pools have unearthed a talented core of younger players.

“We’ve got a group of lads at a good age and I think we might have a chance of doing something next season,” said the 30-year-old winger.

“For me I’m delighted to being staying at the club.

“It’ll be my sixth season here and there was no doubt in my mind I would sign a new deal.

“It didn’t take me long to get it sorted and I wanted to get it done as quickly as possible and start looking forward to pre-season and next year.

“Ever since I signed here I’ve been made welcome and have got on with the lads.

“My future is here at Hartlepool and to have that security is great.”

Contract talks with Flinders, Liddle, Hartley, Sweeney, Adam Boyd, James Brown and Paul Murray will continue today and further announcements are expected.

Pools are also still working to bring new faces into the club and both a striker and midfielder are expected through the door before next week.

Meanwhile, teenage striker Curtis Main, who spent a couple of weeks on trial with Pools last month, has signed a one-year deal with Middlesbrough after leaving Conference side Darlington.