Reinforcements needed for Hartlepool United - and fast after sale of Luke James

FINAL FLING: Luke James comes on as a substitute against Cheltenham Town. Picture by FRANK REID
FINAL FLING: Luke James comes on as a substitute against Cheltenham Town. Picture by FRANK REID
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AS shock transfer deadline deals go, Luke James signing for Peterborough United wasn’t one of them.

The League One side had courted the 19-year-old for almost the entire month of August and finally got their man yesterday morning after he completed a medical.

Why then supporters had to wait until the Posh chairman announced the news live on television just 90-minutes before the deadline is open to question.

The fee was undisclosed and perhaps we will never know the real amount but estimates range anywhere from £500,000 upwards to £1m plus.

Jack Baldwin went for £500,000 in January so it is hard to believe James has gone for any less, goalscorers, after all, always command a higher transfer fee.

Posh are also well-known for inserting sell-on fees and they often flog their talented players for big-money moves.

Pools were also in a strong bargaining position too, with James having only signed a new and improved two-year contract in the summer.

But whatever the fee, the reality is James is no longer a Hartlepool United player.

The teenager, who joined the club as an 11-year-old and signed his first professional contract on his 17th birthday back in November 2011, has flown the nest.

And the question fans are demanding to know is what next for Pools?

As expected, no permanent signings were brought in on deadline day, even though it would appear that there was time to bring in a replacement.

But Pools fans - and Colin Cooper - will have to make do with further loan signings once the emergency loan window re-opens in a week’s time.

Unattached players are also still an option, so all is not lost, just yet for Pools.

One thing is for sure though, urgent reinforcements up front are desperately needed because where are the goals are going to come from?

That was a major concern even before James was first linked with a big-money move away.

Cooper, who must have been as frustrated as anyone with proceedings over the past few weeks, is left with Marlon Harewood and Boro loan man Charlie Wyke as his striking options.

Jonathan Franks can of course play up top but he hasn’t played there much under Cooper so far. With Boro making further signings yesterday, it could mean further players from the Riverside joining Pools on loan with Bradley Fewster still on the radar.

This is a worrying time for the long-suffering supporters of Pools though, who feel angry and frustrated seeing their best players sold and not replaced on deadline day.

The last few weeks have left a bitter taste in supporter’s mouths after James handed in two transfer requests and also failed to show up to training for three days prior to the Wimbledon match.

Whether James was badly advised or not, that was not the attitude or level of commitment that supporters had come to expect from the hard-working striker.

But fans must remember what he has done for the club in the past 12-months especially.

Who knows, without his 16 goals last season Pools could well be plying their trade in the Conference this season.

James, who became the club’s youngest-ever scorer when he smashed home a screamer in the 2-0 win over Rochdale in January 2012, is a huge talent and at the age of 19 will only get better.

Former teammates and coaches of James, named the League One Apprentice of the Year two years ago, were all quick to take to Twitter to wish the popular striker well following his departure.

I don’t think anyone would begrudge him a big move –whether Peterborough can be classed as a “big move” is open to interpretation - but they look to be heading places this season with a young and vibrant team.

I wish him well and just hope, and pray, that the Pools hierarchy have a plan in place to replace him.

100 appearances and out then, for James.