Scott Flinders’ future at Hartlepool United remains in the balance – but the club could have a ready-made replacement in veteran stopper Steve Harper.
The Easington-born keeper has been released by Hull City after their relegation from the Premier League and the 40-year-old is known to favour a move closer to home.
Harper, who enjoyed a loan spell at Pools back in 1997, is keen to keep playing and is also interested in moving into coaching after almost 25 years between the sticks.
Pools have offered last season’s captain Flinders a new contract, on reduced terms, but SportMail understands he is set to leave after a six-year spell at the club.
League Two Pools have been without a goalkeeping coach since Stephen Pears left earlier this year, while reserve keeper Jonny Maxted was released at the end of the season
Strengthening that area will be a key priority for boss Ronnie Moore, and a player-coach role could appeal to Harper, who holds a level four (UEFA A Licence) coaching qualification.
I’ll be honest and say I’ve had a few calls about keeping going so we’ll see.Steve Harper
Harper’s coach at Hull was ex-Pools goalie coach Gary Walsh, who left Victoria Park in 2011, who Harper praised for “keeping him going” in recent months.
The veteran keeper, who played the last seven matches of Hull’s season, insists he still has the appetite to keep playing but is keen on a coaching role.
“I do actually [still have the appetite],” said Harper.
“I would have hated being sat there watching the last seven games from the bench.
“I’ve felt good, I’ve felt sharp. Walshy has done a great job of keeping me going. He’s done ever so well for me.
“If the right coaching job came up I would consider it.
“I’ll be honest and say I’ve had a few calls about keeping going so we’ll see.
“If the phone rings with something that’s worthwhile then I’ll consider it,” added Harper, who was talking to the Hull Daily Mail.
Despite his advancing years, Harper is bound to be in demand given his wealth of experience and he has previously been linked with the Pools manager’s job.
Harper was signed by Newcastle United from Seaham Red Star by then manager Kevin Keegan and went onto make 199 appearances for the club.
After leaving Newcastle in the summer of 2013, Harper - who spent 20 years at St James’s Park - signed for Steve Bruce’s Hull City.
He made 31 appearances for Hull, who dropped down to the Championship on the final day of the Premier League season.
* Meanwhile, Pools have moved to tie highly-rated defender Dan Jones down to a new contract.
The 20-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough season with the club last season and played almost every game after Ronnie Moore was named manager in December.
Jones, comfortable at left-back or centre-back, made a total of 28 appearances during 2014-15, playing through the pain barrier after fracturing his wrist.
Pools had taken up the option on Jones’ contract but moved to agree new terms to reward the promising defender for his form during Pools’ survival.
Details of the length of the contract have not been released.