Hartlepool Utd boss had lost ‘confidence’ in released Rodney

Nialle Rodney in action against Rochdale. Photograph by FRANK REID
Nialle Rodney in action against Rochdale. Photograph by FRANK REID

COLIN Cooper has admitted he didn’t have the “confidence” to pick Nialle Rodney regularly in the first team after it was confirmed he has left the club.

The 23-year-old signed in the summer after impressing on trial but he has since made just 15 first-team appearances, scoring one goal.

Club chairman Ken Hodcroft confirmed in his programme notes for the visit of Cheltenham Town that Rodney would be leaving when his monthly contract runs out today.

Speaking after the 1-0 defeat, manager Colin Cooper told SportMail he was “sorry” it hadn’t worked out but confirmed the striker wasn’t going to be offered a new deal next season anyway, so felt it was right to release him now.

Cooper said: “Nialle had been out of football for a year but I asked him to come and give it a go here because I knew the attributes that he had.

“Every day I see the lads train and every day I make decisions moving forward.

“I haven’t had the confidence in Nialle to pick him regularly.

“He has terrific pace and ability but it hasn’t quite happened.

“That won’t dampen my feelings about Nialle as a lad and I’m sorry it hasn’t quite worked out the way I wanted it to.

“We have been going on a month to month basis because of the financial fair play but I am now, in my mind, thinking about 2014-15.

“With all due respect I wouldn’t have extended his contract beyond the end of the season so I have decided now is the time to start planning.

“It doesn’t mean I feel any less about him.

“I’m sorry it hasn’t quite worked but I genuinely hope that he doesn’t go back out of football and that he gives it another go, wherever that is.”

Rodney’s only start came in the 2-1 win at Morecambe in December, while he scored in spectacular fashion during the 5-0 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win over Bradford City.

Meanwhile, chairman Ken Hodcroft has revealed the vacant Number 2 post at Hartlepool United isn’t set to be filled until the summer.

Pools were rocked when former assistant manager Craig Hignett handed in his notice to join Championship side Middlesbrough as assistant head coach to Aitor Karanka.

Hodcroft, writing in his programme notes, said: “Another issue that needs resolving in the close season is a reserve team manager to assist Colin.

“John Hewitson has been a great help but of course he needs to return to his role with the youth development department and the first team and Colin needs permanent help.

“Craig Hignett’s departure, although in his interest, was bad timing for the club as a whole.”

A clearly frustrated Hodcroft added: “When we appointed Colin and Craig we expected them to do well together and no doubt to eventually move on to manage in the higher leagues bringing success to both the club and themselves.

“However, Middlesbrough’s lightning unilateral strike to entice Craig away was unexpected so early after he had joined us and was done without due consideration of HUFC or the adherence to contractual obligations.”

He added there was “no surprise” though in the way things are done in the world of football, adding the attitude of other clubs in the “Football League’s so-called ‘family’ the FA, FL and PFA never ceases to amaze”.

Potential names for when the post is filled include former Boro favourites Steve Vickers and Neil Maddison, Mark Venus and Mark Proctor plus current Bolton Wanderers assistant Lennie Lawrence and first-team coach Curtis Fleming, have also been touted.