Hartlepool United boss Craig Harrison: Competition for places is key

Craig Harrison has seen more departures than arrivals since pitching up at Hartlepool United.

Friday, 9th June 2017, 7:04 am
Updated Friday, 9th June 2017, 4:24 pm
Rhys Oates attacks for Pools against Doncaster. Picture: TOM BANKS

But the new boss hopes he is not far away from strengthening the Pools squad for a crack at promotion from the National League.

Keeper Trevor Carson was the latest to leave the Northern Gas & Power Stadium this week, signing for Scottish Premier League outfit Motherwell.

Forward Lewis Alessandra left on the day the manager arrived in town, following the exit of his fellow joint second top scorer, Nathan Thomas, to Sheffield United.

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While Harrison has yet to unveil his first signing since leaving TNS in the Welsh Premier League for Pools in the fifth tier, he is determined to build a squad capable of going straight up.

There is scope for the 39-year-old to do that, given the club have 12 spaces after releasing nine players last month.

“I’m a big believer in competition for places,” said Harrison.

“I don’t believe anyone should be playing every week no matter how good or experienced you are or how much you have played in the Football League or National League or wherever.

“Competition for places is key and I would like to strengthen the squad and keep the best players as well.”

Harrison has work to do on that front.

Three of their better talents, Carson, Alessandra and Thomas, have already gone and there will be a question mark over Padraig Amond.

While the striker took the National League by storm two seasons ago, when he scored 37 goals for Grimsby Town, he is unlikely to want to play it again, unless Harrison can tempt him.

There could be similar conversations for the ex-Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace defender to have regarding Nicky Featherstone and Michael Woods who, like Amond, are under contract.

Harrison must also speak to the three Pools players who will be out of contract at the end of this month – Carl Magnay, Rhys Oates and Brad Walker.

All three have been offered new deals at the Vic, with SportMail understanding the trio have rejected the initial terms.

National League neighbours Gateshead are interested in taking Magnay back to the International Stadium.

The defender spent two years at his hometown club following his release by Chelsea and boss Neil Aspin would like him back.

Oates should also attract some interest, given his age and versatility, and the same goes for Walker.

The 21-year-old looked to be heading for the exit at the Vic last season, having fallen out of favour with then-boss Craig Hignett.

But he was recalled to the starting XI by caretaker Sam Collins – and scored against Stevenage – before making the centre-half slot his own when he was pressed into emergency service there following an injury to Matthew Bates.