Luke James and Matthew Bates react as striker returns to Hartlepool United

Luke James is back at Pools for a third spell.
Luke James is back at Pools for a third spell.

Matthew Bates has secured the missing piece of his Hartlepool United jigsaw with the return of Luke James for a third spell.

The 23-year-old underwent a medical on Friday afternoon before agreeing terms and putting pen to paper on a permanent contract.

James is Pools' eighth signing of the summer and Bates couldn't hide his delight at landing the striker, who is looking forward to hitting the ground running on his return to The Vic with Sunderland the visitors on Saturday afternoon.

The striker was unveiled during a Pools Facebook Live Q&A with Bates, director of football Craig Hignett introducing him mid-chat - to the delight of the watching Pools fans.

Bates said: "We first spoke two or three weeks ago, along with Craig, it has been in the pipeline a while.

"A couple of days ago we thought it was off really, Luke had other offers but he chose to come here, so it is great.

"He is the missing piece of the jigsaw, if you like, he will graft, run in behind and stretch teams and with the midfield players we have recruited who like to play forward it will be a perfect match for us.

"I know his strengths, those runs in behind are intelligent runs, that is one of the reasons why we signed him. It is a permanent deal, which is what we wanted."

James came through the ranks at Pools, bursting on to the scene as a fresh-faced 17-year-old and became the youngest player to score for the club in January 2011 when he netted a screamer against Rochdale. His form earned him a £500,000 move to Peterborough United.

He returned to the club on loan during the second half of the 2015/16 campaign as form improved and the team climbed the League Two table.

After a season-long loan at Bristol Rovers, he linked-up with Forest Green Rovers last summer before joining Barrow on loan in January where he helped himself to seven goals – including one against Pools.

James added: "I am happy to be back and can't wait to get going. It feels like I have never been away, there are some familiar faces here who will help me settle back in.

"Playing games and scoring goals at Barrow, my confidence went through the roof and hopefully I can continue that this season and have a right go.

"I can't wait to get going."