Paul Murray keen to add new faces at Hartlepool United


PAUL Murray will leave no stone unturned as he attempts to strengthen Hartlepool United.

Murray and his coaching team, assistant boss Willie Donachie and player-coach Sam Collins, will be out watching matches and utilising all their contacts to try to bring in fresh talent.

The new boss was last night at West Auckland to watch three trialists in the Pools Reserve team who lost 2-1 to a stunning late home winner.

Keeper James Montgomery, midfielder Steven Leslie and winger Sidney Schmeltz all played the full 90 minutes and it is likely that the club will continue to assess them in training and for the reserve team.

Pools need cover in between the sticks for skipper Scott Flinders but it is the other end of the park where their needs are more pressing.

Creativity and goals are required.

Dutchman Schmeltz showed flashes of promise while Leslie, more a box-to-box operator, had a steady start, but both are some way from any first-team activity after long lay-offs.

But each player ticks two boxes Murray likes – they are both mid-20s and are not contracted to any club.

“They are training with us at the minute,” he said. “They are free agents and could be signed now.

“We need to add to the squad for sure and I’m having a thorough look at it.

“Loans-wise, we’re always looking and there may be some movement there this week.#

“We need numbers and we require players from the middle ground, definitely.

“As I said after Saturday we have young players and we have experienced lads but not many in the 24, 25, 26 range.

Murray currently has his hands tied slightly on the loan front – Pools can only field five on a Saturday.

“I can only have five [loan players] in my match-day squad,” he said. “But we are looking at players – me, Willie and Sam are all out taking in matches.”

Messrs Montgomery, Leslie and Schmeltz will doubtless be given further opportunities.

Montgomery not only has a perfect name for a North-East keeper, he has a decent pedigree having come through the Middlesbrough youth set-up.

Leslie made over 100 appearances for Shrewsbury and then had spells at Hereford, Telford and Worcester before emigrating to Australia though the 26-year-old has now returned home.

Schmeltz, 25, meanwhile has played for a variety of clubs in the Netherlands while making 20 appearances for Oldham and Shrewsbury over the last two years, scoring twice.

“If anything is going to happen, they are going to have to come in and train hard,” said Murray.

“They are going to have to get fit, the two outfield lads are quite a way from fitness.

“Last night, Sidney showed us a bit at times what he’s about.

“Steve hasn’t played much either but his game is about fitness, energy, getting up and down.

“This what I’m here to do, look at them and make them better.”

Murray has been a busy man this week, working on the training ground by day and watching the club’s younger players by night.

On Monday evening, he was at Bramall Lane to see Pools go down with some pride in the FA Youth Cup, losing 3-1 at Sheffield United.

Last night he was at Darlington Road, where a spectacular free-kick by Alex Francis two minutes from time put the reserve team out of the Durham Challenge Cup.

“I’ve enjoyed it so far,” Murray told SportMail. “Training has been lively and I saw some positive performances and good individual displays for the youth team on Monday night.

“I thought they did really well.

“Last night, it was a helluva tough place to come – the pitch is big and wide and they were playing against some proper men.

“Some of the young lads played very well.”