Matthew Bates believes Liam Donnelly can develop into a top player after his Hartlepool United exit – but says he was less bothered by the exit of Devante Rodney.
Pools boss Bates has opened up with his thoughts on the departure of the two players, who quit the club earlier this month.
Both men commanded a fee when they left for Motherwell, in Donnelly’s case, and National League rivals Salford City with Rodney.
And despite offering deals to the pair, Bates has revealed he has mixed feelings about their exit.
On Donnelly, Bates believes the sky is the limit for Northern Ireland under-21 skipper.
“We really liked Liam,” said Bates.
“We know he is better than this level and we wanted him to stay.
“There was interest in him last January and I think deep down we knew he wanted to leave.
“We have no problems with that, he gave his all for this football club and we can only wish him well.
“I think he will even move higher than Motherwell, he is that good a player.”
Donnelly proved to be one of the star performers at Victoria Park since joining from Fulham in 2016
The versatile and talented 22-year-old defender could operate at full-back or in the centre of defence, and became a fan’s favourite with his displays.
He made more than 60 appearances for Pools and attracted the attention of many clubs, before deciding to link up again with his old Northern Ireland youth coach Stephen Robinson and join SPL side Motherwell on a two-year contract.
While Donnelly will be a loss for Pools this season, Bates admits for very different reasons he was not as disappointed to see striker Rodney depart.
The young forward was highly-rated by many behind the scenes at the club, but never quite fulfilled his potential at the Vic.
And with Bates keen to hit the ground running this season, he said he wasn’t able to wait on Rodney to finally come good on a consistent basis.
“He was another good lad but he lacked a bit of consistency really,” said the Pools boss, who has so far added five new faces to his squad ahead of the National League season kicking off on August 4.
“We offered him a deal and that put us in a position for compensation.
“He is not one that I am sad to see leave. In terms of his ability he has a lot, but I need players who are ready for me now.
“I have no doubt Devante is a player who will kick on and become a top player but he was a little bit behind where I wanted him to be.”
Rodney scored just two National League goals in 42 appearances for the club last season.
The former Sheffield Wednesday trainee almost made himself a Vic Park legend when he scored twice in the last game of the 2016/17 season to earn Pools a 2-1 win over Doncaster Rovers that would have been enough to keep them in League Two until a late Newport winner against Notts County.