Hartlepool United face battle to land target Jordan McGhee - with Motherwell set to enter the race to sign the former Middlesbrough defender

Hearts' Jordan McGhee.
Hearts' Jordan McGhee.

Hartlepool United face a battle to land No 1 defensive target Jordan McGhee.

Pools manager Craig Harrison has earmarked the signing of the Hearts central defender as a priority, with the news that he will be without TWO key defenders over the next week at least.

And Sport Mail has learned that Scottish Premiership side Motherwell could be about to rival Pools for the signature of the one time Juventus and Sunderland target.

This week Harrison was told that he would be without Liam Donnelly for both Monday’s clash with Guiseley, as well the hosting of Maidstone United a week on Saturday.

As well as that the manager is working on the idea of being without summer signing Louis Laing, who has endured a difficult start to life at Pools, for at least another fortnight, after he suffered a hamstring injury at Bromley.

So, adding two new defenders to his Pools ranks is seen as a must by Harrison, who looks set to play Donnelly in the heart of the backline, alongside Scott Harrison, against Fylde at Victoria Park tomorrow.

And McGhee is a player who Harrison knows well, having watched his progress closely during his time on loan at Middlesbrough at the back end of last season.

The 21-year-old Jambos defender, who can play anywhere across the back four, is also known to No 2 Paul Jenkins, who was part of Boro’s youth setup last campaign.

The Mail confirmed yesterday that Harrison was looking into the prospect of bringing McGhee in on loan, but he faces a battle to land the Scotland youth international, with Motherwell also interested.

One thing massively in Pools favour is that they can guarantee McGhee the chance to rebuild his reputation with regular first-team football.

That playing time would also be under the trusted eye of Harrison’s lieutenant Jenkins and former Boro man Matthew Bates.

But what they cannot offer is league football, which would be one of the pulls of switching Tynecastle for Fir Park, where former Pools keeper Trevor Carson signed for around £10,000 earlier this summer.

On transfers, and specifically adding to his defensive pack, Harrison said: “I understand the situation.

“Obviously Liam Donnelly is going away on international duty. We will miss him for two games - Monday and Saturday.

“We have tried our best to get a late call-up but the Irish FA have not agreed.

“It is there protocol. If one asked then they all would - I understand that.

“We are working hard to bring a couple in.”

Harrison stressed that he has a number of irons in the fire, should a deal for McGhee break down.

And it is understood he has been offered a number of players from agents and managers in Scotland.