Dave Challinor explains why signing 'persistent' free agents Mike Fondop and Jordan Cook is 'a good sign' for Hartlepool United

Dave Challinor hopes Hartlepool United’s two latest arrivals will bring some much needed ‘presence’ up front.

Friday, 17th September 2021, 11:12 am
Updated Friday, 17th September 2021, 12:58 pm

Forwards Mike Fondop and Jordan Cook both signed for Pools as free agents on Thursday as Challinor looks to find the solution to the side’s attacking issues.

Will Goodwin, Olufela Olomola and Mark Cullen have scored just one goal between them so far this season.

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Jordan Cook (photo: HUFC/Alex Chandy)

“They're different to what we've got,” said the Hartlepool boss. “It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out we're a bit young up top and with that comes inconsistencies.

“We need a goalscorer and need to find a solution to that. We need a focal point and a presence up front and both provide that in their own way.

“Cooky has been in with us for a month and played in some of the bounce games and scored some goals. He's got the attributes we're looking for and is a good finisher, will be a goal threat, has experience and lives locally. He ticks a lot of boxes.

“[Fondop] has more experience at National League level but he's physical and will get himself in goalscoring areas.

Mike Fondop (photo: HUFC/Alex Chandy)

"He's got decent mobility and will occupy defenders and allow us to get up the pitch. Tuesday was a prime example of us not being able to do that.”

When asked if either player will be involved in the trip to Oldham Athletic this Saturday (3pm kick-off), Challinor responded: “We'll see where we're at.

"Cooky has trained the past month, Mike was with us for a week and we'll have a chat with them to see where they are and we'll do what we can to try and win.”

The free agent market is always an interesting one which raises questions why players are still without a club in mid September. Fortunately Pools’ latest two arrivals are here because they want to be.

“Cooky came out of the league, dropped down to get some games at Gateshead and was persistent in the fact that he didn't just want to jump back in at a club at a lower level,” Challinor told The Mail.

“He could have quite easily signed for Gateshead or another non-league side. Credit to him, he’s not done that and been given an opportunity to train with us and really show what I can do. If that takes longer to grab that opportunity then so be it.

“From Mike’s perspective, it’s tough because he went from the National League to League One so when you come out of there, your first thought is to try and stay in League One.

"If you can’t do that then you look at League Two and the longer you leave it, the more difficult it can become to find a club.

"He’s probably a victim of pitching himself at the level he was at and wanting to stay in League One. We spoke to other players in the same boat if you like and we had positive conversations with one in particular but he got a League One offer and decided to stay there which is his prerogative.

"It’s a good sign that they’ve backed themselves to play as high as possible and persisted with that rather than taking the easy option and dropping down and getting a wage.”

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