Hartlepool United transfer news: Where should Paul Hartley look to strengthen this summer

So here we go then, the silly season is upon us as the transfer window officially opens but what business do Hartlepool United need to do this summer ahead of their second season in League Two?

By Joe Ramage
Friday, 10th June 2022, 10:53 am

Whichever way you look at it, it will be a summer of upheaval for Pools - you could in fact argue it already has been with new manager Paul Hartley arriving and one or two familiar faces exiting the Suit Direct Stadium.

Harltey will meet his squad, or what is left of it, next week for the first time before the club jet off to Portugal for a warm weather training camp ahead of their preparations for the new campaign and you do wonder whether the new manager will bring in any players ahead of that trip to the Algarve later this month.

Following Gary Liddle’s decision to leave the Suit Direct Stadium for non-league side South Shields earlier this month, Pools are now alarmingly short on numbers ahead of their return to pre-season duties.

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Paul Hartley will need to be active in the transfer market for Hartlepool United. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

As things stand, per the club’s official release, Pools have 10 players signed on for next season. Those players include; Tom Crawford, Reagan Ogle, Omar Bogle, Neill Byrne, Marcus Carver, Nicky Featherstone, David Ferguson, Jamie Sterry, Ben Killip and Joe Grey.

Meanwhile, at the time of writing, Luke Molyneux, Timi Odusina, Mark Shelton and Jordan Cook continue to mull over their new deals being offered.

Even should those four players agree terms on a new deal, Hartley remains some way short of a squad he will be happy with that can compete in the top half of the League Two table next year.

While there will, hopefully, be the added boost of the academy structure in place for Hartley to assess any potential youth players to at least fill numbers in the squad, Pools will need to be active in the transfer market over the coming weeks.

Luke Molyneux has still to decide on his future with Hartlepool United. (Credit: Will Matthews | MI News)

But where do they need to strengthen?

In a word; everywhere. Whether that be by adding quality or depth, Pools need to spend quite a lot of care on their squad over the next few weeks with those players ideally being on a permanent basis for the club to plant the foundations of a long-term plan.

While it is accepted at this level loans can be hugely beneficial, and you would expect Pools to utilise the loan market once again, permanent deals will just help everyone settle their nerves heading into the new campaign.

Where those deals will materialise is open for debate. Pools, and Hartley, are playing things close to their chest on the recruitment front since the appointment although head of recruitment Chris Trotter is understood to have been working behind the scenes on potential signings.

Davis Keillor-Dunn is available on a free transfer this summer (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

At this stage of the transfer window there remains several players heading out of contracts who could prove to be shrewd pieces of business.

A quick glance at some of the other club’s released lists in League Two throws names like Davis Keillor-Dunn and Callum Cooke into consideration but much depends on the philosophy Hartley is keen to implement going forward.

Harltey has ties in Scotland having managed four different clubs north of the border and may even look to target his talisman with Cove Rangers in Mitchel Megginson who scored 24 times in 2021/22.

Goals are perhaps the most important part of Pools’ summer recruitment with only two sides scoring fewer than their total of 44.

In Bogle, Carver and Grey - Pools’ recognised forwards as it stands with Molyneux’s future still up in the air - there were just nine goals combined.

Club captain Featherstone, something of a controlling midfielder, and wing-back Ferguson were next in line behind Molyneux with five goals each while Mark Cullen, who left to join AFC Fylde, registered six.

Every team wants goals, but Pools, in particular, will need to source some in the transfer market on that evidence.

At the other end, only five teams conceded more than Pools’ 64 which would also suggest work needs to be done defensively to shore things up if Pools are to advance into the top half of the table.

Byrne remains with the club next season and is likely to be one of the first names on Hartley’s team sheet while Odusina’s future remains unclear. Should the 22-year-old leave the Suit Direct Stadium it will leave only Byrne as an out-and-out central defender which leaves another key area to be addressed quite urgently by Hartley.

Crawford and Featherstone will provide a base in midfield but there will need to be additions around them in terms of depth and quality. Bryn Morris, who spent the second half of the season on-loan with Pools, had a clause in that deal to extend his stay with a two-year contract and is something Hartley should consider despite his injury concerns.

In goal, Killip made himself something of an unsung hero and deservedly claimed the No.1 shirt during the 2021/22 season but he will need somebody to keep him on his toes with youngster Patrick Boyes more than likely still some way off being ready to be thrust into the grind of League Two.

Pools were linked with Rochdale stopper Joel Coleman last month which could be a smart move given the 26-year-old will be available on a free.

One area Hartley won’t have to stress about is at full-back with both Sterry and Ferguson tied down for the season. Both defenders represent high quality in that area of the pitch for Pools and, given Hartley’s tendency to mix things up tactically, are expected to feature heavily in the new manager’s plans.

Hartley has just under 12 weeks of the transfer window to shape his squad to be somewhere near to what he described as a club who he considers able to provide a platform to build a team that wins.

One way or another, it’s going to be an interesting summer.