Rising Hartlepool United star offered professional deal

Connor Simpson.
Connor Simpson.

Rising star Connor Simpson has been offered his first professional deal at Hartlepool United.

The 17-year-old striker has broken onto the first-team scene at the Vic this season, having made his debut in the closing stages of the Football League campaign last year.

And his progress has been rewarded with an offer of terms, potentially to ward off interest in the player, who has been courted by a number of Premier League clubs this year.

Newcastle United were linked with the player in the last transfer window, as well as top-flight rivals Liverpool and West Ham United.

Simpson debuted for Pools in April last season, under first-team coach Matthew Bates, getting 10 minutes against Cheltenham and then 18 minutes on the final day at home to Doncaster.

But the teenager announced himself earlier this season with his maiden strike for Pools – a header in his first start for the side against Maidenhead United, in the National League at Victoria Park on September 2.

Since then he has made a further four appearances for Craig Harrison’s men.

Simpson has not yet put pen to paper but it is expected that the player will sign in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, boss Craig Harrison admits that he’s delighted to finally have some competition back in his first-team squad.

This week, defender Liam Donnelly returned to training having been away with Northern Ireland Under-21s, and is likely to be thrown straight into the starting XI for the weekend clash with Aldershot Town at the Vic.

Carl Magnay has a chance of being involved also, as well as Sunderland loan man Michael Ledger.

Last weekend, Jake Cassidy made his long-awaited return to action, and Conor Newton and Tomi Adeloye were also available again.

All of a sudden, Harrison has options.

“It’s great to have these lads back,” said the 40-year-old boss.

“It really ramps up the competition for places and in training on a daily basis and hopefully that will go out onto the pitch.

“To get in the team you have to perform in training and then perform on the pitch on a Saturday to keep your place.

“We’ve got a strong squad now, these players are coming back from injury and Liam Donnelly, who was on international duty and then suspended, is another one.

“Lewis Hawkins wasn’t in the 16 on Saturday (in the 0-0 draw at Boreham Wood), so the competition is fantastic.”