From Black Cats to Monkey Hangers

BEN Clark today praised Peter Hartley's decision to move down the A19 after making the same switch himself five years ago.

Hartlepool United's back line will have a very different look next season with Hartley, Neil Austin and goalkeeper Scott Flinders joining Chris Turner's men and a new left back still on the wish list.

Hartlepool-born centre half Hartley has been perhaps the most impressive of the new boys in pre-season to date – the 21-year-old finishing second to Ritchie Jones in the opening day long-distance run.

Hartley rejected the chance to sign a new contract at Sunderland in the summer to join Pools after failing to force his way into the first-team.

It's a familiar situation for Clark, who played just three league games for the Sunderland first-team before agreeing to move to Pools on a free transfer.

Although Clark initially struggled at Victoria Park, the 26-year-old is now a first-team regular and believes Hartley can similarly bridge the gap.

Clark said: "I was in a similar situation to Peter when I was at Sunderland.

"They offered him a contract, but there is something in your head telling you it's time to move on.

"I think you get sick of playing in the reserves because it doesn't matter how you play because the step up to the Premiership is a big one.

"The first few months are tough but he's a winner and he likes to learn so it should be good.

"I'm sure he'll be looking forward to getting some physical games against some good quality teams.

"We'll be talking to Peter because he's a young lad and I'm sure he'll benefit from playing alongside me and Sam Collins."