Craig Hignett discusses the departure of teenage defender linked with Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur move
Hartlepool United will fight for compensation for released teenage defender Luka Murphy, if, as expected, he is snapped up by another club.
Murphy, who was on a scholar's deal at the Super 6 Stadium, was let go by Pools when it became clear, according to manager Craig Hignett, the player did not want to remain at the National League outfit.
The 17-year-old, and his agent, rejected the offer of a professional contract at Pools earlier this season, having been on trial at Premier League outfit Fulham.
The likes of Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United, Sunderland, Leeds United and Middlesbrough are all understood to be monitoring the situation, with the player a free agent as things stand.
But despite that, Pools are ready for the fight - and Hignett has hinted Pools are willing to go to court in order to secure compensation for a player they coached through their academy since the age of nine.
"We have released him but still reserve the right to compensation," said Hignett.
"We will fight for compensation.
"If anyone takes him, and I am sure they will as the kid has ability, then we will fight for it."
Fans have been left baffled by the decision to let one of their bright young talents leave the club without a fee.
But things are not as they may seem.
Explaining the situation, Hignett lifted the lid on the negotiations which have led to Murphy and Pools parting ways.
"We want players who want to be here," he said.
"We want players with the right character and the right attitude. If anyone hasn't got that, we won't have time for them.
"If people make it clear we don't want to be here - I do not see why we should waste our time coaching them.
"I don't care who you are - I only want people to be here who want to be here for the right reasons. Football reasons.
"When players are here, we are not a stop-gap. We want players to give everything for us - we don't want them to be constantly looking for other clubs."