IF Hartlepool United are to make a push towards the League Two play-offs they are going to have to do it without Luke Williams.
Boss Colin Cooper confirmed what SportMail revealed on our website on Friday that Middlesbrough were intending to recall the gifted 20-year-old.
Boro are desperate for a goal - and a spark - and it has not gone unnoticed that the 20-year-old has been doing the business 11 miles up the road at Pools.
Williams has scored twice in the blue and white shirt and went the closest on Saturday for Pools in the 2-0 defeat at Northampton Town.
There was a silver lining for Pools with Cooper having agreed with Manchester United to keep fellow loanee Jack Barmby.
But Cooper admits the exit of Williams, while not a major surprise, is a significant blow.
“Unfortunately Middlesbrough have informed us that Luke is going back there,” said the boss.
“He’s a great lad, and played some exceptional football for us, but that’s the nature of loan players.
“I argued our case that I felt he would be better off staying here and playing games.
“But he’s going back in their first team squad.
“For him, I’m pleased – but for us? I’m gutted.
“I joked after the Newport game that him scoring would attract attention.
“We thoroughly enjoyed having him and I’m really sorry to see him go back, but he is their player.
“He’s been excellent for us and no-one would argue with that.”
However, Cooper has been encouraged by the decision of the Premier League champions to allow Barmby to stay at the Vic.
“I have spoken to Manchester United and they are keen for him to continue his development and get opportunities here,” said the 46-year-old.
“Jack is a massive talent.”
Barmby began Saturday’s game at Sixfields and only showed brief glimpses of his ability before being brought off mid-way through the second half.