SUNDERLAND, and any would-be suitors, are welcome to sign Hartlepool United defender Jack Baldwin – providing the price is right, writes ROY KELLY.
Speculation this week has seen the Black Cats linked with both Baldwin and teen sensation Luke James.
Sunderland – and an increasing number of clubs – have been tracking James over recent weeks while Baldwin’s excellence at the back has also earned him attention.
Pools boss Colin Cooper insists he will not stand in the way of any of the club’s best players bettering themselves.
But the 46-year-old added that the deal would have to be right for Pools.
“I have gone on record already saying that we have a lot of players that are attracting attention,” Cooper said.
“The list of scouts coming to watch our team is getting longer.
“I think on Saturday for our FA Cup tie we had 15 and a lot are from high-end clubs.
“It doesn’t surprise me about Jack, he’s been outstanding.
“He’s worked very hard to get to where he is now and he will keep attracting people.
“He had a good, strong season in League One last year and he’s just carried that on.
“It’s a big shot in the arm for Jack that people are watching him.
“Clubs are watching four or five of our players and that’s lovely.
“We have to look at what’s best for them as individuals and what’s best for Hartlepool United as a club.
“We can continue to develop these players.
“If a Premier League club came knocking for Jack Baldwin, I don’t think I am a
l TURN to Page 43 person who could turn that dream down.
“I think you have to say ‘you’ve got to get on with your life’.
“It would benefit him and it would benefit Pools.
“It’s the same with any of our players.
“We’d do it on our terms.
“If we think it’s right for the player and for Hartlepool then we’d consider it.”
But Cooper had a word of caution over the prospects of an influx of cash at the Vic.
“I’ve spoken to one or two managers about our players but the finance in football outside the Premier League and the top end of the Championship isn’t great,” he said.
“We might have a lot of people looking but I’d be very surprised if they are opening cheque books.”