Hartlepool United release nine as Pools let ‘players of future’ go

Offered new contract: Carl Magnay. Picture by FRANK REID
Offered new contract: Carl Magnay. Picture by FRANK REID

Hartlepool United might not have a manager, yet, but he knows the players he has for next season.

It goes slightly against the grain, but Pools have announced the players who will be leaving the Northern Gas & Power Stadium before Dave Jones’s successor has his name plate put on the office door.

Devante Rodney beats the keeper to score Pools' second goal against Doncaster on the final day. Picture by Tom Banks

Devante Rodney beats the keeper to score Pools' second goal against Doncaster on the final day. Picture by Tom Banks

Ben Dudzinski, Kieran Green, Rob Jones, James Martin, Jake Orrell, Billy Paynter, Ben Pollock, Jordan Richards and Connor Smith are the men to go.

Dudzinski, Martin, Orrell and Pollock were all signed last summer, then boss Craig Hignett viewing them as players for the future.

But the quartet managed a combined Football League total of four appearances, left-back Martin making three of them. Given Pools need proven players for now, rather than prospects who may come good, they have let the quartet go.

Pools have offered new contracts to Carl Magnay, Rhys Oates and Brad Walker, while an option on the contract of Devante Rodney has been taken up by the club. So, have Pools made the right decisions? SportMail looks at the players who have left the Vic.

Not the tallest, what he lacked in height he made up for in effort


Ben Dudzinski: Signed from Durham University as the number three behind Trevor Carson and Adam Bartlett, he never got onto the field.

Kieran Green: The Teesside teenager showed up quite well in pre-season, but, given the heavy numbers in midfield, it was no surprise he rarely featured in the ‘real thing’. Played an hour of the 1-1 draw against Crawley and two Checkatrade Trophy ties before having a late-season loan stint at Gateshead.

Heed boss Neil Aspin clearly liked the look of him because he’s signed him on a one-year deal, so we’ll see him on the Vic next season after all.

Rob Jones: Perhaps one of the most disappointing aspects of the season. Started just four games and finished only one. The 37-year-old was superb for the club last season, playing a key role in the spring revival under Hignett, but injuries kept him out during a campaign when his voice and experienced were needed most.

A former caretaker boss at Doncaster, don’t be surprised to see him end up coaching somewhere.

James Martin: Not the tallest, what he lacked in height he made up for in effort. Picked up from Queen of the South last summer, the 18-year-old played in three Checkatade ties and made three league starts, but did not play again after the 5-0 home defeat to Cambridge.

Jake Orrell: Looked the pick of the prospects. Like fellow Wearsider Martin, Jake was not the biggest, but he was lively and seemed a decent outside bet for some game-time but featured in only three cup matches and did not make it off the bench in the league. Should find work somewhere aged 19 and with a fair pedigree.

Billy Paynter: Will be missed by the fans who took to the striker, who spent two years at the Vic as club captain. But it was always unlikely the 32-year-old would be retained, unless it was in some sort of dual player-coach capacity.

Paynter suffered persistent Achilles problems over the last two seasons, and the fact he was one of the squad’s top earners meant it was too great a risk. Scored 19 goals in 51 appearances, a fair total.

Ben Pollock: The son of ex-Middlesbrough midfielder, Jamie, he arrived at Pools with a decent pedigree following his time at Newcastle United. But the centre-back played only twice, both in the Checkatrade, and when he did not even come into the frame during the defensive crisis, you knew the writing was on the wall for the 18-yesar-old.

Jordan Richards: His reign as the current longest-serving player is over. His future looked under threat following Kenton Richardson’s breakthrough at right-back and, with Magnay and Liam Donnelly both wanted, his time was up after six years.

He made his debut in League One in 2012 and went on to make 67 appearances, including 21 this season, the last at Cheltenham, where he performed well after being recalled from his loan spell at Alfreton, who may well want him back.

Connor Smith: When new boss Dave Jones brought him into the squad at Newport, things looked bright for the forward. He was one of the few players to emerge with any credit in a 3-1 defeat, but was never seen again. Can be exciting on his day.

Will they stay,will they go?

Carl Magnay: Has experience of the National League after two seasons at Grimsby. Suffered a ruptured knee ligament injury in September but fought back from surgery to play at the back end of the season, showing the right sort of character club will need.

Rhys Oates: As predicted by SportMail last week, he has been offered new terms. Young, enthusiastic with a run-all-day, engine, Oates blew hot and cold this season, but when used through the middle he excelled.

Brad Walker: Pools may find it hard to keep hold of their youth product. A rare bright spot on a bleak season, he was thrown in as an emergency centre-half, he played so well he got to keep the shirt. His ability to read the game was excellent and showed some class bringing the ball out.

Rarely put a foot wrong and, alas, his displays at the back will not have gone unnoticed elsewhere.


Devante Rodney: To say the teenager had a tough baptism following his mid-season move from Sheffield Wednesday is being kind. But how he transformed his career in 20 minutes.

With Pools heading out of the Football League, he came on and scored two brilliantly-taken goals to turn a one-goal deficit into a 2-1 win over Doncaster live on Sky. Alas, it did not keep Pools up, but it earned the 18-year-old a contract.