SEVEN Middlesbrough players on Hartlepool United's loan radar

Matthew Bates
Matthew Bates

Hartlepool United's coaching staff and Middlesbrough have an intrinsic link.

Craig Hignett is a Riverside hero, Matthew Bates' was a first-team defender, owner Raj Singh only just gave up his Boro box and Ross Turnbull came through the ranks on Teesside before moving on to Champions League final bench fame with Chelsea. Former Hignett assistant Curtis Fleming is on the books at Boro, while Adrian Bevington has a solid, long standing working relationship with the director of football.

Luke Armstrong (right) in his time at Blyth Spartans.

Luke Armstrong (right) in his time at Blyth Spartans.

As a result, it will come as no shock to Poolies that Hignett and Bates have earmarked their closest geographical footballing rivals as a target in their quest to strengthen the squad.

Pools have a number of Boro's kids on their radar this summer. But who?

Here we take a look at SEVEN possible temporary signings who look National League ready for Bates & Co.

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Bates and coach Ged McNamee (left).

Bates and coach Ged McNamee (left).

Luke Armstrong - striker

Pools are in dire need of strikers and Armstrong, son of former Pools managerial target Alun Armstrong, could well fit the bill.

The 21-year-old, 22 next month, started his career in the Boro academy system but was released at under-18 level, heading to Blyth Spartans.

He fired 23 goals in his final season at Croft Park before Boro brought him back under their wing.

Alex Pattison celebrates scoring in pre-season for Boro.

Alex Pattison celebrates scoring in pre-season for Boro.

Travelled with Tony Pulis' first-team at the end of last season when the promotion-chasers were short on numbers, so is rated highly by the Boro hierarchy.

Would no doubt have been a signing lined up by his father, had he beaten Bates in the race to land the top job at the Vic.

Nathan McGinley - left-back

A player who, had the stars aligned, would have been a Pools player in January.

New Pools director of football Craig Hignett.

New Pools director of football Craig Hignett.

The left-back was right at the top of former manager Craig Harrison's winter window shopping list, and we all know where that ended up... Crumpled up in the bin.

A transfer embargo was placed on Pools by the National League at the end of October, 2017, with the club unable to prove to the governing body that they had sufficient funds to fulfill their fixtures.

And with that went Pools chances of getting the 21-year-old on board.

He subsequently signed for League Two side Wycombe Wanderers, starting seven games between January and May.

Unlikely to get a chance in the Championship.

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Target Lewis Wing, of Yeovil, confronts Alexis Sanchez in last season's FA Cup.

Target Lewis Wing, of Yeovil, confronts Alexis Sanchez in last season's FA Cup.

Alex Pattison - midfield

A midfielder who spent a chunk of last season on loan in the National League North.

Minstermen boss Martin Gray, formerly of Darlington and heavily linked with the Pools vacancy in the summer, described 20-year-old Pattison as having a "big future" playing a much "higher level".

"Alex has been at Middlesbrough for ten or eleven years and is very, very highly thought of," said Gray of the youngster.

"I believe he will have a really big future in the game at a higher level.

"He is a very attacking minded midfield player and he has got a goal in his game, for sure.

"We have known about him for a long time. He will get the game-time that he needs and he will get the senior football that academy players at that age need to experience."

Has been on a pre-season tour with the first-team, but injuries have hampered his progress on that front.

Enes Mahmutovic - defender

A cultured defender, who is already a full international, albeit with Luxembourg.

Played against Pools for the under-23s in a friendly last summer and is renowned at that level for liking to bring the ball out.

So if Bates is looking for a footballer at the back, former Fola Esh man Mahmutovic could well be the answer.

A loan spell seems likely this summer, with the five-capped defender unlikely to break into Boro's first-team ranks any time soon.

Mitchell Curry - striker

Should Armstrong not fit the bill for Bates and Hignett then a move for fellow striker Curry could be another avenue.

Another who is almost certain to be sent out on loan this season, although it is difficult to know what level he will be pitched at by his parent club.

If it's pace Pools are after then this lad has it in abundance.

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Lewis Wing - attacking midfielder

The midfielder's rise has been remarkable.

At the start of 2017 the 23-year-old was still playing Northern League football with Shildon, when Boro came calling with a pre-contract agreement.

Having impressed with the club's under-23 side, Wing was handed a new, extended deal at the Riverside Stadium last November. He has made two appearances for the Boro first team, both in last season's EFL Cup, while spending the end of last season on loan at Yeovil Town. He played 22 times for the Glovers at the back end of last season, scoring three times.

His development just goes to show that there are still players who slip through the net as teenagers but can bloom later playing much outside the Football League pyramid, especially in the hotbed that is the North East non-league scene.

He is liked by the club, but a loan move to League One might well be in the offing.

Aynsley Pears - goalkeeper

Yes, keepers are not likely to be at the top of Bates or Hignett's wishlist.

But, if they are looking for someone to cover Scott Loach, or even move the high-earning player of the season on, a loan deal for Pears is something that could well be considered.

Starred for rivals Darlington in the National League North last season, making 16 appearances between the sticks in the Quakers' failed bid to get in the play-offs.