Transfer update: Hartlepool United in talks with top targets

Patience is a virtue for Hartlepool United in this summer's transfer market.

Wednesday, 23rd May 2018, 8:06 am
Updated Wednesday, 23rd May 2018, 8:11 am
Craig Hignett alongside Pools' new owner and backroom staff

While Matthew Bates has been keen to get the ball rolling with additions early on, the club are having to bide their time to secure the right targets, not just sign for the sake of it.

The Mail has learned that Pools are in talks with a number of players, but face competition from the Football League and National League competitors for their top target’s signatures.

It is understood that the likelihood of any deals getting done this week are low and Pools will have to bide their time. But that is expected to ramp up next week when player contracts around the country edge closer to their end.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Players are being offered to the club on a daily basis, with Bates and director of football Craig Hignett’s phones ringing off the hook.

But, with budgets tight, and a number of constraints placed on the squad rebuild, including getting a whole host of players off the wage bill before they can be replaced, Pools privately accept they must be clever in the market this summer.

Gone are the days of paying transfer fees, handing out eye-watering contracts and signing players who might come good down the line - this summer the club require fifth tier ready players.

And while they will be able to add before players leave, they will have to get rid of bodies before Bates and Hignett’s vision of a total transformation can get even close to completion.

Six players - Scott Harrison, Jake Cassidy, Ryan Donaldson, Louis Laing, Jack Munns and Conor Newton - have been made available for transfer by Bates.

And the hope is that most of them will be moved on.

The likes of Cassidy, Newton and Donaldson did not have the worst of seasons, although some fans may beg to differ, but their wages, with former Cheltenham Town man Munns, are understood not to fit into the club’s new streamlined business plan.

Contract offers to Devante Rodney and Liam Donnelly, due to their age, aides with development compensation down the line, should one or both reject terms and decide their future is best served elsewhere.

Even the option taken up on Michael Woods’ contract does not mean he is necessarily safe at Pools.

A number of Football League clubs, including Exeter City, as well as big-spending Salford City had been looking to take Woods away from Victoria Park this summer.

What the extension ensures is that Woods will command a fee and not leave without Pools being refunded for the loss of their 11-goal top-scorer from last season.