SEVEN key Hartlepool United players Craig Hignett could build his National League promotion push around

For the first time in his reign, Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett has admitted that contracts, and getting players tied down, is on the immediate agenda.

Monday, 11th March 2019, 8:50 am
Updated Monday, 11th March 2019, 8:53 am
Liam Noble of Hartlepool United during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Dover Athletic at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Saturday 9th March 2019. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | Shutter Press) ©Shutter Press Tel: +44 7752 571576 e-mail: [email protected] Address: 1 Victoria Grove, Stockton on Tees, TS19 7EL

Speaking on Saturday, the manager said: “We have to tie people down - over the next month or so we will try and speak to people.”

Hignett continued: “We are still trying to do business but we are talking about new contracts for the players already here.”

Pools don’t exactly have the biggest squad, nor do they have many players with deals beyond the end of the current campaign.

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While many a manager would see that as a major concern, Hignett has cut a relaxed figure when asked about the situation.

Here our writer Liam Kennedy takes a look at the SEVEN key players who the manager must look to get tied down for next season’s push towards the play offs.

Nicke Kabamba

Bringing the striker in Havant & Waterlooville changed Pools’ season.

They went from being a goal shy side with little to no threat, to a side capable of scoring and creating against anyone.

Suspect the frontman will want a move closer to home but Pools should be moving hell and highwater to get Kabamba tied down long term.

Luke James

Hignett recently said he’d be a Premier League player if he scored goals. While this may be a bit of a stretch, there’s no doubt James is a very valuable commodity at this level, goals or not goals.

Teams up and down this division will be falling over themselves to snap a player of James’ ability up. I think Hignett will be, too.

Scott Loach

A keeper who splits opinion but in my view there are none better outside the Football League.

It’s a simple one for me - the player is good, and he wants to stay. Sign him up!

Liam Noble

Another player who is loved by some and loathed by others.

The stats speak for themselves. Noble has 13 goals in 36 games for Pools this season, which puts him among the highest scoring midfielders across the top five divisions in England.

In the right team, with the right system, he is a very classy player.

I’d keep him - it’ll be interesting to see what Hignett does.

Josh Hawkes

Seems to be some confusion over the player’s deal.

Separate sources have mentioned a one-year option, with others saying that was activated this year.

Without looking over the paperwork itself, it’s impossible to say who is telling the truth.

Luke Molyneux

On Saturday he was a game-changer and on that show it’s easy to see why Hignett was so keen to get the player on board.

A special talent with the ability to glide past players and deliver chances for others, as well as net a goal or two himself.

Out of contract at Sunderland in the summer, and unlikely to be kept on.Pools in the driving seat but will not be short of suitors come May.

Ryan Donaldson

Has shown he can lead from the front in the club’s time of need.

When things were not going well earlier this season, he was the one player who stepped up to the plate on a consistent basis.

He might be one of the higher earners, without a position 100% tied down in the side, but his versatility and leadership qualities make him a must in any rebuild.

Whether Hignett sees it that way is another thing altogether.