Pools signing expected in next 24 hours

Neale Cooper. Picture by FRANK REID
Neale Cooper. Picture by FRANK REID
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NEALE Cooper will add at least one new face to his Hartlepool United squad before this weekend’s trip to Holland – and it should be inside the next 24 hours.

The Scot told SportMail he is closing in on his third signing of the summer and confirmed his interest in Luton Town’s Robbie Willmott, as well as reiterating his desire to bring Steve Howard back to the club.

Willmott, a 22-year-old left-winger, has been released by the Hatters following an apparent contract dispute and Pools are in the hunt for his signature.

“Hopefully something will happen in the next day or so,” said Cooper.

“Willmott is one I like and I’ve had good reports about him.

“A centre-forward is still a target and everyone knows I like Steve Howard.

“I’d like to get him but whether we do we’ll have to see.

“We’ve got budgets to work within and I know that.

“So if you get one and not the other then it’s swings and roundabouts, because we’ve got boys who can play on the left – (Andy) Monkhouse, (James) Poole and (Jonathan) Franks.

“You have to maybe think of priorities and see what works best. But hopefully by the time we go to Holland we’ll have another one in.”

Willmott scored eight times from 44 outings last season and is in the mould of tricky winger Cooper is keen to bring to the club.

Howard, meanwhile, is still mulling over a number of offers following his release from Leicester City, but a return to Victoria Park is a very real possibility.

Cooper made his second signing of the close season over the weekend when Simon Walton joined from Plymouth Argyle.

The central-midfielder follows Jonathan Franks through the door at Maiden Castle following his arrival from Middlesbrough back in May.

Both players have made a point of lauding the influence of Cooper in their decision to move to the Vic, but the boss insists he has no special routine around the negotiating table.

“I just mean to be myself when I meet these boys,” he went on.

“I treat players like I liked to be treated as a player.

“I’m honest with them and I won’t say things I don’t mean.

“I like to make them feel welcome.

“But they have to fit in to what we have here.

“Both Jon and Simon will, I can tell that by the nature of the boys.

“Simon’s only been here a few days but he’s friends with all the boys, I like that and I think it’s so important.

“Jon as well has been terrific so far, his work ethic is tremendous and already I get a good feeling about the pair of them.”