HARTLEPOOL United manager Colin Cooper will look to the loan market for cover after the sale of Jack Baldwin, amid claims the defender’s head “was turned” by his representatives.
The Pools gaffer said the 20-year-old defender had initially told club officials he was happy to stay before a dramatic U-turn saw him sign for Peterborough United on deadline day in a deal that could be worth up to £750,000.
Cooper said the lateness of the deal didn’t leave Pools with any room to manoeuvre and they will now look to the loan market for cover, although veteran defender Sam Collins is expected to keep his place after impressing in Saturday’s goalless draw with Scunthorpe United in League Two.
Baldwin signed a four-and-a-half year deal with Darren Ferguson’s League One side following the transfer for an initial £500,000, with the potential for add-ons.
Cooper had tried to persuade Essex-born Baldwin, soon to become a dad, to stay with the lure of a new contract but the Pools boss believes he had his head turned and instead opted for Peterborough.
Trimdon-born Cooper said: “Certain things have to fall into place and the one thing I didn’t expect was the player to be attracted by it.
“At lunchtime on Friday he wasn’t, but by 2pm he was, and I would suggest that was his representatives, not Jack.
“He has a big thing coming with his family, his fiancée is pregnant and is due in eight weeks, and I’d said to him we were looking to improve his contract and keep him here as long as we could.
“Peterborough have showed he was our most valuable asset. By 2pm Friday his ear and head had been turned ever so slightly and then he told us he would like to pursue it.
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“In footballing terms, what do you do, do you say no?
“We had been under no pressure to sell any players but he said he felt it was right for him as a player and right for himself and his fiancée both financially and geographically, because it is half-way back down the country for him,” added Cooper.
Cooper admitted the deadline day sale left no time to get a permanent replacement in, but added that Baldwin was facing a two-match suspension anyway after picking up 10-yellow cards.
Cooper, 46, added: “We have to give Sam [Collins] his due and give him a pat on the back for the way he has approached everything and his professionalism in recent months.
“It would be very naive of myself and Craig [Hignett] though if we didn’t start to look to see what is out there, which will obviously be something on loan, and we started that on Friday.
“Whether it is somebody that comes straight into the team, we’ll have to see, as we are not in the market to accumulate players and we have to only bring players in that we feel will be genuinely better than what we have got but we will certainly be looking.”
The club wouldn’t comment on whether Baldwin had a sell-on clause inserted into his deal at Posh.
Cooper added: “As a club we had to decide whether what they were showing us was a handsome enough price for a terrific young player.
“We all sat down about 7pm on Friday and agreed that what Peterborough was showing was going to be attractive now and moving forward will become an awful lot more attractive because I know what Jack is capable of.
“I just hope for Jack’s sake that he has made the right choice. I believe he can play in the Championship and they are very close to that and if they get into the Championship then good luck to him because he is more than capable and with a bit more development, beyond that.
“We thank him for his services, we got him from non-league for nothing, and we have been paid quite handsomely.”