Exclusive: Craig Harrison must trim Hartlepool United squad, before being allowed to strengthen
Craig Harrison will have to ship players out the Hartlepool United exit door, before considering adding to his ranks.
The Mail understands the Pools boss is keen to freshen up his squad, with the January transfer window just around the corner, and a number of loan moves from North East clubs up for grabs.
But due to the number of players already on the books, he has been told he will need to trim the size of his playing staff before any incomings can be considered.
At present Pools have 29 professionals at the club, having only recently added the likes of Tomi Adeloye and James Thorne to aid their forward options.
But should Harrison wish to bring in more bodies, he must let some go in order to free up space in the squad as well as room to manoeuvre in the wage budget.
And it could well be players such as Adeloye, who in recent weeks has made an impression at first-team level, and Thorne, restricted to just two National League appearances, who fall on Harrison’s chopping block.
Both are contracted until the turn of year, and in the case of Thorne, at least, is unlikely to be offered new terms.
Others who may well find themselves moved on in order to significantly add could be youngsters Connor Simpson and Kenton Richardson.
The performances of Louis Laing and Scott Harrison have also done little to underline their first-team credentials in the fifth tier and could be under threat should the manager see the need to strengthen in this department.
Canny operator Harrison knows he will have to box clever in the market between now and the end of the season, if he is to improve his hand ahead of a tilt at the automatic promotion spot in the fifth tier.
One player who could boost Pools hopes in January is Keith Watson.
The defender is edging closer to fitness, but given the nature of his knee problem will not be rushed.
Hopes are high that he could remain at Pools until the end of the season, with his St Johnstone loan deal up in five weeks.
But as yet, no decision has been made on the Scot’s immediate future, with Watson continuing his recovery programme under the watchful eye of Pools medical staff at the club’s Riverside training base.
Meanwhile, midfielder Nicky Deverdics knows this season is a marathon not a sprint for Pools.
The 30-year-old is a seasoned pro at this level, having plied his trade successfully at Dover Athletic in recent years, and he knows just what it takes to soar in a division was so many flounder.
And while some fans may be panicking at the club’s current league position, Devedics knows there is plenty of time to turn things around.
He said: “It is a long season, it matters where you are at the end, not now.
“Every game is difficult.
“But we know we need to cement our place in the promotion race sooner rather than later.”