Former Bradford City, Walsall and Carlsile United defender discusses his Hartlepool United future ahead of potential talks with Graeme Lee

Gary Liddle admits he would happily retire at Hartlepool United if the option was made available to him.

By Joe Ramage
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 12:30 pm

Liddle has been speaking about what lies ahead for him in the near future with his contract at the Suit Direct Stadium, one of a number, set to expire in the summer.

The Pools defender admits he is yet to speak with manager Graeme Lee over what comes next with the 35-year-old suggesting he is keen to continue playing wherever that may be.

Liddle has cemented his legacy with Pools over two spells with the club and has this season moved into the top 10 list of all time appearances for the club having featured 37 times this campaign.

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Gary Liddle captained Hartlepool United in their FA Cup fourth round tie at Crystal Palace in February. (Credit: Federico Maranesi | MI News)

Not only that, this season has been a particularly special one for Liddle after he made his 700th senior appearance in football in the 2-1 win over Harrogate Town back in March where captain Nicky Featherstone made the fantastic gesture of handing over the captain's armband to the defender for the day.

Liddle remains vice-captain at the club who gave him his opportunity back in 2006 and led Pools out for their historic FA Cup fourth round tie against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in February.

Liddle has achieved great success over the years with Pools including a number of promotions and the 35-year-old believes he has once again done enough to merit extending his stay at the Suit Direct Stadium for another year.

“I’m pleased with it. I’d like to think I’ve had a solid enough season,” said Liddle.

Gary Liddle made his 700th career appearance this season. Picture by FRANK REID.

“All I’ve tried to do this season is make myself available and when I have played I’d like to think, in the most part, I’ve performed. But I’ll always be there.

“I’ll hopefully be here next season and be able to kick on again but I’m pleased I've been fit for most of the season.

“I’ve enjoyed this season. Ultimately the main things was that I wanted to help this club be in this league, not just for this season but for the coming season’s as well, and I’m pleased to have played my part in it.

Liddle added to The Mail: “I’d still love to play definitely.

Gary Liddle missed the defeat to Swindon Town with a calf strain. (Credit: Mike Morese | MI New)

“I feel as though I’ve done well enough to show that I can mix it in this league. Whether it might not be starting every week next season I’m not too sure.

“The manager obviously will bring in his own set of players in the summer and some of them might well be defenders. It happens every season. But it’s a chat I’ll have to have with the manager.”

But as yet, that chat is yet to happen between Lee and Liddle despite their being just over a week left of the season.

The pair share a strong relationship having known each other for well over a decade but so far Lee has not yet been able to sit down with the defender to express his plans moving forward.

Liddle however does not begrudge Lee for that, as a matter of fact he supports the way Lee has approached things over recent months as he looks to tie down players for next season.

As revealed by The Mail, Lee has been locked in negotiations with several players who he deemed as ‘key players’ since early February but has so far only managed to reach an agreement with midfielder Tom Crawford while the future of the likes of Luke Molyneux, Timi Odusina and David Ferguson continue to be uncertain.

But Liddle believes Lee is doing the right thing by speaking to others ahead of him conceding he is happy to bide his time before discussing his own future.

“I want to be here, definitely,” Liddle told The Mail.

“It’s a club where I’d happily retire at this football club. Whether that be next season or the season after or whenever that may be down the line, I don’t know.

“But whether I am here next season or not I’ve got no idea at the moment.

“The manager is obviously speaking to players and there’s probably a lot more important players in the team he’s dealing with than me at the moment so I’m sure he’ll deal with those and then I’ll have my own chat with him and we’ll see how it goes.

“Spike is someone that I know well. I’ve known him for 15 years so there’ll be no beating around the bush,” Liddle added.

“If he feels as though I can influence the group in any way then I’m sure I’ll be here.

“But he’ll be honest enough to tell me if he doesn’t see a place for me in the squad then he’ll tell me that as well and we'll shake hands and go our separate ways. But it’s a tough time.

“Obviously there’s people out of contract, the likes of Mols and Timi and people like that, who have got their own contracts to sort out who are a lot more important than I am. So as soon as those things are sorted the better.”

With discussions still to take place then between Liddle and the club that means the prospect of Liddle playing his final game for Pools could be a reality over the course of the next 10 days.

Liddle missed the defeat to Swindon Town with a slight calf issue but, should he return for the trip to Scunthorpe United he could then be in line to make his 365th, and final, appearance for the club against Colchester United in next weekend’s final game of the season.

If Liddle has his way however, there will be plenty more appearances in blue and white to be made yet.