Hartlepool Utd confirm interest but no bids for Luke James

Luke James in action against Stevenage. Photograph by FRANK REID
Luke James in action against Stevenage. Photograph by FRANK REID

HARTLEPOOL United manager Colin Cooper has confirmed there has been interest in highly-rated striker Luke James – but said the club has not received any bids.

Intense speculation that Peterborough United had made a £750,000 bid for the striker led Cooper to personally speak with Posh manager Darren Ferguson.

Speaking after Pools’ 1-0 defeat to Stevenage on the opening day of Sky Bet League Two, Cooper told SportMail that Ferguson has not made a bid for the highly-rated 19-year-old.

James was the star turn at Pools last season, scoring 16 goals which led to him being crowned Supporters and Players’ Player of the Year and it led to him penning a new contract this summer.

He remains a Hartlepool United player though and completed the full 90 minutes against Stevenage, a Chris Whelpdale goal enough to secure the win for the home side.

Speculation surrounding the future of Amble-born James is unlikely to go away before the transfer deadline window closes on September 1.

Cooper told SportMail: “All I would say is there has been interest.

“I have spoken with Darren Ferguson and he has not expressed any interest.

“That doesn’t mean he doesn’t like him and doesn’t mean he doesn’t watch him, or hasn’t watched him.

“I had a conversation manager to manager with Darren Ferguson and he has not made a bid for Luke James.”

Asked if any other clubs had made a bid for the 19-year-old striker, Cooper replied: “No.

“I had a chat with Darren Ferguson because I felt that other people were making something out of it.

“So I just I phoned him and I asked if there was anything going on?

“He said nothing, nothing as far as he is concerned.”

There had already been rumblings this summer of interest in James from Sheffield Wednesday and Peterborough - who Pools sold Jack Baldwin to in January for £500,000 - with several other clubs from higher up the league pyramid keeping tabs on him.

On Thursday, Posh manager Ferguson declined to comment on the speculation and insists he is in no rush to sign a new striker despite the shock departure of last season’s top scorer Britt Assombalonga to Nottingham Forest for a club record fee in excess of £5m.

League One Posh are in need of a new striker though and James certainly fits the bill of the type of players they recruit - young, talented players of huge potential from the lower leagues that they usually sell on for a decent profit.

If Peterborough were to come calling for James, Pools are in a strong position given the striker recently signed a new deal and know that Posh have money in the coffers following the sale of Assombalonga.

Peterborough United, who will travel to Portsmouth today ahead of their Capital One Cup match, were also rumoured to be tracking Swindon Town striker Michael Smith.

But Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony confirmed on Twitter they are not interested in Smith.

Next up for Pools is a trip to Port Vale on Tuesday night for the first round of the Capital One Cup and, at the time of going to press, Cooper was confident of having the same fully-fit squad to pick from.

Cooper added: “As it stands it’s the same squad for Tuesday.”

On Friday Cooper added four players to his squad, confirming the permanent signings of Tommy Miller and Michael Woods, while he also secured Boro winger Ryan Brobbel on a month-long loan deal and Sunderland goalkeeper Joel Dixon on a month’s emergency loan.

Pools could return to their two North-East neighbours in the coming weeks for further loan players.

Boro defender Christian Burgess, 22, who enjoyed a successful season on loan at The Vic last year, and striker Bradley Fewster, 18, are being closely monitored, along with Sunderland pair 19-year-old striker Mikael Mandron and forward Duncan Watmore, 20.