Hartlepool United transfer window Q&A: How is Pools' January going and what's next for Graeme Lee's side?
Hartlepool United made their first moves in the transfer market this week with Graeme Lee welcoming two new signings into his squad.
Marcus Carver arrived from Southport for an undisclosed fee before Rotherham United defender Jake Hull joined on-loan for the second half of the season.
Carver has impressed at National League North level this season with 12 goals in 17 league appearances and will be looking to continue that form back in the Football League while 6ft 6” defender Hull will certainly provide a presence in defence.
And here, our Hartlepool writer Joe Ramage answers some of your questions on Pools’ January window so far and what’s to come over the rest of the month.
What’s the latest on Jonathan Mitchell?
As revealed by the Hartlepool Mail, contract talks with Mitchell appear to have stalled with player and club seemingly apart in their discussions. It’s a difficult one for both parties.
From a club perspective, you have two solid goalkeepers who would more than likely start at most clubs in the division.
On the face of it, that sounds great. But in practice it can be difficult to deal with in terms of keeping both players happy.
Only one goalkeeper can play and at this moment in time Ben Killip is that chosen one.
And, to be fair to Killip, he has performed well this season since Mitchell’s arrival and it would be hard to take him out of the No1 role.
Mitchell himself has performed well in his appearances this season and has certainly done what Pools will have expected him to do in competing for Killip’s spot since coming in.
From a players perspective however, you can imagine Mitchell is frustrated at not being able to feature as regularly as he would have liked.
Coming off the back of making 35 appearances in League One for Northampton Town last season Mitchell will have backed himself to be able to wrestle the gloves from Killip but it has not worked out that way.
A short term deal from Pools in the summer seems slightly short sighted in that Lee now finds himself in a position where he is having to scamper around looking for a back-up goalkeeper should Mitchell refuse to take up a contract, with Patrick Boyes still in his developmental phase.
Of course, Mitchell could agree to a new deal over the coming days and weeks but it doesn’t feel as though that will be the case with the 27-year-old already having time to mull over his decision coupled with Lee’s continued search for a goalkeeper.
Are there any other players on similar short term deals who may need renewing this month?
With Pools moving out of the National League last season things are a little different in terms of short term or season-by-season contracts.
As I understand it most players have deals through until the end of the season or beyond with Mike Fondop the only other to have a shorter deal.
There are, however, still a number of players who will see their contracts expire in the summer, meaning Lee will have to plan discussions with his squad over the coming weeks and months once we are out of the January window to retain their services next season.
Will there be outgoings?
I would think there will be a couple.
You only have to look at the back of Pools’ matchday programme to acknowledge Lee has a fairly decent sized squad at his disposal and, similar to the Mitchell situation, players who have not featured as often as they would have liked may be seeking a move elsewhere.
Pools brought in striker Carver this week, which you would anticipate pushes the likes of Fondop and Olufela Olomola a little bit further down the line.
With Fondop’s deal coming to an end he may be one who moves on this month, while we have, of course, seen a number of loan players return to their parent clubs.
How do you think the transfer window is going so far and where else should Pools strengthen?
It has been steady. Naturally, supporters are keen for their club to make an impact in the market as soon as it opens but Pools are biding their time and are not being forced into things [outside of a potential goalkeeping issue].
Lee has highlighted since his arrival his desire to strengthen the top end of the pitch and looks to have done so with Carver, a player Pools have tracked over the last six weeks since Lee’s appointment.
Defender Hull is someone who comes highly recommended from Rotherham and it will be interesting to see how Lee utilises him with Pools having kept four clean sheets in seven games since Lee has been in the dugout.
As we approach the halfway stage of the window I think there remains one or two deals for Pools to make.
Lee hinted he had not given up hope on Tyler Burey’s return, despite his involvement in Millwall’s FA Cup defeat to Crystal Palace, which suggests he remains in the market for another attacking player which could also explain the recent links to Notts County winger Callum Roberts, who will have impressed any admirers recently when scoring a hat-trick at Kings Lynn this week.
Elsewhere, with Mitchell perhaps set to leave I would expect a goalkeeper to arrive fairly soon.
Pools missed out on ex-keeper Trevor Carson who moved to Morecambe earlier this month but Lee has admitted to there being a number of goalkeeper’s on trial in training this week which suggests he is preparing for Mitchell’s exit.
Beyond that, somebody to come in and provide competition for David Ferguson may be an option with Pools still competing on three fronts.
Zaine Francis-Angol can occupy that role but has also been used as a third centre back.
But it’s difficult for players coming in knowing they more than likely won’t be starting up against Ferguson.