Craig Hignett runs the rule over trio of trialists - Sunderland academy star, former Black Cats kid & ex-Kilmarnock midfielder train with Hartlepool

Rees Greenwood. SAFC U23 V LFC U23 10-12-2027. Picture by FRANK REID
Rees Greenwood. SAFC U23 V LFC U23 10-12-2027. Picture by FRANK REID

Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett is taking a look at three trialists as he weighs up strengthening his Pools ranks.

Hignett has talked in depth about the want to add players who will improve his starting XI, no matter what position they play.

And the Mail has learned Hignett has been running the rule over three players in the last week or so, with a former Kilmarnock and Dunfermline midfielder on trial as well as one ex-Sunderland trainee, and a player still on the books at the Stadium of Light.

Twenty-two-year-old attacking midfielder Aaron Splaine played for Pools in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Middlesbrough Under-23s last week, alongside former Black Cats youngsters Adam Bale and Rees Greenwood.

Splaine started his career at Queen of the South before making an impression in the Scottish Premiership with Kilmarnock.

In 2017, Splaine moved to the second tier in Scotland with Dunfermline before heading over for a season at Derry City.

He was released by the Irish outfit at the end of their season.

Splaine has suffered injury problems, with a broken leg limiting his action in the last 12 months.

Although the player is understood to now be fully recovered after the issue.

Bale is a competitive midfielder, who would fit into the holding role in Pools’ midfield, if signed.

He played a key role in the Sunderland Under-18s side, then Under-23s where he has been skipper this season.

Bale, who can also play in the heart of defence, has played 10 games for the Black Cats academy this campaign, captaining the Under-23s on eight occasions.

This is the second time Winlaton lad Greenwood has been at Pools in the last few months, with former manager Matthew Bates having the wideman on trial before his departure in December last year.

Greenwood played eight times for Gateshead last season and spent the beginning of this campaign at Scottish Championship side Falkirk. He is a free agent.