FOUR areas Hartlepool United boss Richard Money could look to strengthen in January
January looks set to be a big month for Hartlepool United - boss Richard Money has expressed as much on numerous occasions in recent weeks.
The manager is keen to build a side capable of mounting a second half of the season charge towards the top seven, as well as fight on another front - the FA Trophy, with Wembley only a few games away with the right results.
Of course, transfer restrictions do not have an impact on Pools’ business in the fifth tier, but the feeling is a better standard of player can be picked up next month, as well as one or two players leaving the club at the end of their temporary deals.
So, who could Pools target next month? And in what positions could they look to strengthen?
Our man Liam Kennedy takes a look at where Money, with the help of director of football Craig Hignett, may add.
Marcus Dinanga has been sent back to Burton Albion after failing to score during his time in blue and white.
He looked raw and while there is definitely a player there, it was never likely to be seen at Pools between now and the end of the season.
On that score, letting him go was a common sense move by Money.
So too was the decision to bring Jake Cassidy back. He returns next week.
He may not necessarily bring goals to this side but what he will do is provide a real focal point.
Cassidy did that at the start of the season and was inexplicably allowed to depart to Maidstone United by former boss Matthew Bates.
In this new 4-1-4-1 Money needs a big man to bring the 4 behind the striker in to play as much as possible - Cassidy could well be that.
And while he has a Plan B in Niko Muir, he needs a Plan C, with games coming thick and fast.
Money has decided Tyrone O’Neill is not that. He will return to Middlesbrough in January.
Another striker could well be on the agenda.
Hartlepool do not have a defensively minded midfielder in their ranks - Money’s words, not mine.
Nicky Featherstone has often been deployed as the deep-lying man in a Pools central unit but times seem to be changing, with Money wanting a tackler in that department.
The only player who really fits the bill at the moment is Carl Magnay, and after a difficult first game back in his unfamiliar role, he was steady at Chesterfield.
It’s an area Money is desperate to strengthen, if he can find the right kind of player next month.
While goals have been a constant problem, so too has creativity.
One of the main tasks on hand for Money is to get this area of concern right.
He seemed to work out a creatively minded looking ‘four’ with Josh Hawkes and Luke James restored to the side and that could work, but he has spoken of the need to bring in a player who can beat a man, and has a bit of pace.
Width is not something seemingly favoured by the old regime, hence the lack of it in the Pools squad.
Pools are light on options in the full-back areas.
While they have relative strength in the centre with Andrew Davies, Peter Kioso, Magnay, Myles Anderson and Harvey Rodgers, they only have Kenton Richardson and Mark Kitching as out-and-out full-backs on their books.
This is likely to be bottom of the pile in terms of priorities for Money, but he seems to like his full-backs to get forward and does value the role.