Crystal Palace midfielder Jake Gray wanted to stay at Hartlepool United

Jake Gray
Jake Gray

Jake Gray had no doubts about staying with Hartlepool United and he hopes that is great news for both player and club.

Gray has scored twice in his last four games, having extended his loan deal for the remainder of the season.

Thankfully, Palace were very keen for me to extend my stay at Hartlepool

JAKE GRAY

The 21-year-old joined Pools from Crystal Palace back in November, scoring twice in the televised 3-1 win over Leyton Orient.

Gray netted a spectacular volley in the 2-1 FA Cup third round sdefeat to Derby and was on target again on Saturday in the 1- 1 draw at Cambridge United.

Was he ever tempted into a return to Palace, where he featured in their Premier League squad this season?

“Nah,” he smiled. “I was very keen to stay here.

“No disrespect to Under 21 football, but I don’t really want to be playing there, to be honest.

“Thankfully, Palace were very keen for me to extend my stay at Hartlepool.

“I’d scored a couple of goals already and I really wanted to stay and score more to help the team and get more experience because I’ve learned a lot since I came here.”

Gray has not held any talks with Eagles boss Alan Pardew but says his progress has been followed by Palace legend Mark Bright, who monitors the club’s players who are out on loan.

“I’ve not spoken to the manager but I’ve talked to Mark Bright,” said Gray, who is likely to be playing just behind the main striker again this Saturday against Exeter City at the Vic.

“He’s been in touch with me regularly and he’s been watching clips of me, so the club are watching me.

“I wouldn’t say I was ever frustrated at Palace, I got my head down and worked hard, kept trying to perform and do well for the 21s.

“I was lucky enough to be on the bench a couple of times in the Premier League, so there was no frustration at all.

“But it’s great to have come here and played regularly in the team.

“Since the first day, the players and the coaches have made me feel very welcome.

“I’ve worked hard since I’ve been here and learned a lot. The players have been great on the pitch, telling me what to do, where to go and stuff.

“I’m enjoying it and I hope that shows on the pitch.

“I had no doubts about coming to Hartlepool – I was looking for a loan for a while so when Ronnie Moore called me I was delighted.

“It was great that someone was interested in me and I couldn’t wait to get started.

“He had the confidence to bring me here and play me most of the games. I’m really thankful for the chance.”