Transfer latest: Update on Hartlepool United striker search
Hartlepool United are unlikely to complete the signing of National League North scoring sensation Jason Oswell.
The Mail has learned talks have taken place between Pools and the soon to be out-of-contract frontman in the last seven days - but the player made it clear he intends to stay in the North West, should he, as expected, leave Stockport County.
Reports in the Chester Chronicle yesterday claim Pools along with Wrexham, Port Vale and Chester were all interested in taking the 25-year-old.
But it seems like Pools will have to look elsewhere as Matthew Bates and Craig Hignett look to strengthen their frontline, ahead of the big fifth tier kick off on August 4.
Oswell netted 25 times for the National League North side last season, making him the second top scorer in the division, and is thought to be in high-demand.
His exit from Stockport looks inevitable after he was omitted from their published squad list for next season.
The striker is thought to be keen to make the transition into full-time football, which has alerted a number of National League clubs.
Meanwhile, Bates expects the next few weeks to be crucial in the shaping of his squad.
The decks have been cleared of late.
At the start of the summer Rhys Oates, Luke George and Blair Adams were released, with the latter duo negotiating an exit despite having the option of another year at Victoria Park.
Since then Liam Donnelly has departed for Scottish Premiership side Motherwell, and Salford City last week snapped up forward Devante Rodney.
Scott Harrison has also headed north of the border, signing a deal with Scottish Championship outfit Falkirk.
While the futures of Nicky Featherstone, Jake Cassidy, Ryan Donaldson, Louis Laing, Jack Munns and Conor Newton remain up in the air, the six exits have freed up wriggle room both in the budget and the squad.
It is well documented Pools are set to run a much tighter ship next season, on and off the field.
But, as things stand, less than three weeks from their first game of the summer, Pools have just 13 professionals on their books, six of whom could also leave before the real ball comes out at the start of August.
Bates knows the next few weeks are crucial for his plans next season.
“I am eager to get going and this has been a good time to plan, reflect and look ahead,” said Bates of his summer so far.
“We have been planning to get things in place soon.
“We always thought the moulding of the squad would probably not take place until mid to late June. There is no sense of panic.”
Bates, whose side ended the season in 15th place, 17 points shy of the play-offs and eight above the bottom four, continued: “We ended the season well, but have to improve. We look where we can improve and while pre-season is a while away yet, the weeks will fly by.
“We still have some contracted players - it has been difficult to plan.
“There might be some who I want out and they want to stay or vice versa.”
Pools’ players return to pre-season on Saturday, with their first game of pre-season not until Saturday, July 7 - at Billingham Town.
Pools will find out their National League fixtures on July 4.