Cooper looks to tie down his wanted men at Hartlepool United

Hartlepool boss Colin Cooper
Hartlepool boss Colin Cooper

COLIN Cooper hopes to tie down his wanted men to new Hartlepool United deals this week.

Pools last week released Zak Boagey, Andy Monkhouse, Greg Rutherford and Simon Walton from the club.

But they exercised their options on Jack Compton, Michael Duckworth, Scott Flinders, Jonathan Franks, Darren Holden, Luke James, Andy Rafferty, Jordan Richards and Josh Rowbotham by keeping them at Victoria Park for a further season. They will join Marlon Harewood and Brad Walker, who were already under contract.

That leaves four players that Cooper wants to negotiate new deals with – Neil Austin, Same Collins, James Poole and Anthony Sweeney.

It is no surprise Cooper wants to keep all four men, especially Austin, Collins and Sweeney, who all captained Pools this season.

Austin led the side superbly in the absence of club captain Sweeney, the 31-year-old being a mainstay at left-back until missing the end of his fifth season at the Vic because of a toe problem.

Collins spent much of the season on the bench, acting as cover for and a mentor to Jack Baldwin and Christian Burgess. Following Baldwin’s sale to Peterborough, Collins returned to the heart of the defence and produced some outstanding performances.

Sweeney has suffered two frustrating injury lay-offs this season, which have restricted the appearances of the club captain. And when fit, he found it hard to break into a team in which Matty Dolan, Simon Walton and Brad Walker were all performing in to such a high level.

But the 30-year-old, entitled to a testimonial at his hometown club, has one major tool in his locker – goals.

The attacking midfielder is adept at finding the back of the net.

James topped the charts on 16, but the teenager aside goals were not exactly flowing – the next highest scorer was on six.

Poole is a skilful operator, who was one of the principal reasons for the club’s excellent autumn run in League Two and the Johnstone’s Paints Trophy.

The former Man City youngster found himself on the bench for a long period, following loan deals for Luke Williams and Jack Barmby.

But clearly the 23-year-old fits into the plans of Cooper, who would like all four men putting their names on contracts very soon.

“We’ve already exercised the options on the players we had options on,” said Cooper.

“There are players we desperately want here.

“The players have done what I’ve asked them to do or better and I’d like to offer them a better deal.

“I have to say the chairman has been very supportive.

“As soon as every player has had their options taken up and we are all the same sheet then we can put the offers to the other players in place.

“The most important thing is that the players know that we respect what they’ve done for me and the club and that we want them to be part of Hartlepool United.

“I hope we can get everything in place of the next week or two.

“One or two have signed already and hopefully very soon all the players will sign theirs and we can crack on.”