Pools target Michael Rae signs for Celtic Nation but Matthew Bates remains on radar

TARGET: Middlesbrough's Matthew Bates.

TARGET: Middlesbrough's Matthew Bates.

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HARTLEPOOL United will not be signing former striker Michael Rae – but ex-Middlesbrough defender Matthew Bates could yet join the club.

Rae had been on trial at Pools last week and was set to spend another fortnight at Maiden Castle.

However, the 25-year-old has now penned a deal with Northern League Celtic Nation.

And Pools boss Colin Cooper explained: “We were asked to have a look at Michael by his manager at Spennymoor, Jason Ainsley.

“He came in and trained and played in a reserve-team game.

“But we were told earlier in the week that he had signed for Celtic Nation.

“Spennymoor and Celtic Nation have done a deal, so there you go.”

Rae, who was released by Pools in 2007, has been prolific at non-league level in recent seasons and also impressed at the World Student Games for Team GB earlier this summer.

But the frontman has chosen to remain outside of the professional ranks and has teamed up with former Pools manager Mick Wadsworth in Cumbria.

That means Cooper will now concentrate his recruitment efforts on the loan market, as he continued: “There are other avenues we can explore but because of finance we’ll be concentrating on the loan market when it reopens on September 8.”

Bates, meanwhile, has been training with Pools for the past six weeks and remains without a club.

The 26-year-old was released by Bristol City at the end of last season.

And Cooper says he would welcome the addition of the former Boro skipper were he interested in signing for the club.

“We’ve given Matthew the opportunity to come and play football because he was spending his time in a gym,” said the Pools chief.

“We have talked about the possibility of Matthew signing for us and we would like him if he chose to.

“We’re not rich on finance unfortunately but, if we could do something and Matthew was keen, then why would you not take someone of his quality?

“But that will be his decision - if there is something better out there for him then so be it.”

He went on: “We’re just giving him the opportunity to be fit and be ready to play.

“If he chooses to play for Hartlepool then great.

“I’m quite happy to have someone of Matthew’s quality here even if he’s just training.

“I’m trying to raise standards and raise the bar and, if Matthew is training with this group every day, then the bar is raised.”