MICK Wadsworth is stepping up his close-season recruitment plans.
The Hartlepool United first-team coach is almost certain to continue in his capacity in charge of senior affairs next term, despite no official confirmation from the club.
Indeed, the fact Wadsworth has been spotted at a number of reserve-team fixtures in recent weeks suggests he is already casting one eye toward summer additions.
He was at Newcastle United’s North Tyneside training headquarters earlier this week to take in their behind-closed-doors league clash with Manchester United’s second string, the visitors running out 2-1 winners.
The Magpies are set to release a number of players at the end of the season and Wadsworth, who is close friends with United’s development coach Willie Donachie, is keeping close tabs on the situation.
Current Pools loanee Ryan Donaldson is one of that band of young professionals whose deal expires in June.
Wadsworth told SportMail last month that he would consider a summer swoop for the England youth international, who has shown enough promise during his short stay at Victoria Park to suggest he could cut it at League One level next year.
One other who may have been of interest to the Pools chief is Patrick McLaughlin, the 20-year-old Northern Irish midfielder.
He has recently been on trial with Swedish top-flight side GAIS and looks set to move to the Gothenburg-based club on loan.
However, McLaughlin will be a free agent at the end of the season and will no doubt come with a solid reference from Donachie who is thought to rate the under-21 international.
Meanwhile, Pools trialist James Gray has left the club for the time being to train with Championship Swansea City.
SportMail understands that Pools have not closed the door on the Middlesbrough midfielder, who scored during the 2-2 reserve-team draw at Grimsby Town this month.
Gray is the son of former Sunderland forward Phil Gray and was involved in the youth set-up at Victoria Park before being snapped up by Boro.
Cameroon-born midfielder George Mboa played alongside Gray against The Mariners and he has remained at the club over the past few weeks.
The 18-year-old played for 77 minutes during Tuesday’s 6-0 hammering at Leeds United and it remains to be seen whether or not he’s done enough to earn an extended stay.
Wadsworth said: “I saw George two years ago when he was just 16 and he was one a few clubs wanted to sign.
“He’s had to wait two years to get his papers sorted regarding residency and he’s a little bit out of touch, but he’s quite a good talent.
“He needs some fitness but he’s a strong boy and can pass the ball well.”
Leeds forward Jonny Birbeck, however, has now returned to West Yorkshire having picked up an injury during his trial period with Pools.