Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor confirms Rhys Oates talks following release from Morecambe

Rhys Oates in action for Hartlepool United.Rhys Oates in action for Hartlepool United.
Rhys Oates in action for Hartlepool United.
Hartlepool United are waiting to announce their first signings of the summer as Dave Challinor confirms the club are in discussions over a potential return for Rhys Oates.

Pools have lost two forwards in Luke James and Aidan Keena over the past fortnight, leaving Dave Challinor without a recognised senior striker at the club.

But potential replacements are being lined-up, including former Hartlepool man Oates, who was released by League Two side Morecambe following an injury-hit campaign.

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The 25-year-old, who scored 15 goals in 109 appearances for Hartlepool between 2015 and 2018, could follow the likes of Timi Odusina, Gary Liddle and Mark Shelton as the first names expected to be through the door in August.

While Challinor was coy when discussing Oates, he did confirm that talks have taken place.

"We can’t say much about Rhys," he told The Mail.

“All I can say is that we have had a chat with him because we knew he was available and we wanted to see where he was at. We’ll wait and see if we and he decide to do anything.”

On James’ departure to Barrow, Challinor said: “With Luke, there was potential for us to do something because the interest from Barrow looked to have cooled when their manager Ian Evatt left for Bolton.

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"That created some uncertainty but nothing was sorted on our end and we’ve moved on. Now I’m hopeful of getting a replacement who will be a really good and exciting addition for us and if we can get that across the line then I think we’ll all be very pleased.”

Oates is being looked at as a direct replacement for James and at least two more forwards being targeted to help shape Pools’ forward line.

Lorne Bickley, who joined Pools just before the 2019-20 season was shut down in March, joined National League North side Kettering Town last week after turning down the opportunity to train with Challinor’s side following their return to East Durham College.

This week, the team are expected to start welcoming triallists as their pre-season preparations continue to progress.

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“We had our first real football day on Friday and it was good, the lads were in decent shape,” Challinor said.

“It was a tough day then we had the weekend off and got back at it on Monday.

"There has been quite a few training with us, I think it’s about 14 but I can’t say too much until we’re able to announce signings next week.

"In addition to the ones contracted from last season, we’ve got players in who we’ve done deals with which we’ll be able to announce further down the line but we can’t say anything at the moment because they’re still tied to other clubs contractually.”

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In addition to the eight contracted players (including Keena), Aaron Cunningham and Joe Grey have been confirmed to be in attendance with Liddle, Odusina and Shelton also believed to be getting involved with training.

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