STEVE Howard WILL be at Hartlepool United this season – and has been handed the No.9 shirt by boss Colin Cooper.
The Pools chief had told the club’s hierarchy that he wanted a resolution to the striker’s situation at the weekend.
Howard was loaned out to Sheffield Wednesday last season and, after publicly stating he had not enjoyed his time at Pools, it was expected he would move on.
However, the two parties have been unable to reach a separation agreement and the 37-year-old will now take his place in the squad which travels to Rochdale on Saturday.
And Cooper said: “He had a few options to explore over the summer but Steve has now pinned his colours firmly to the mast.
“I think he’s come back in to training and enjoyed what’s been happening, now he’s fired up and determined to put behind him what happened last season.
“If he does decide to retire at the end of next season then I think he wants to make sure that he goes out on a high by producing the goods for this club.
“He wants to repay the fans and although he knows that won’t be easy, it’s something he’s determined to do – and the way he can do it is to get in the best possible shape he can be and get out there and score goals.
“We want him to be the flag bearer for the team – he’s 37 and we’ve asked him to be the leader of the troops because of the level he’s played at throughout his career.
“He’s going to attempt to bring that quality and experience to what is a relatively young squad we have at The Vic.
“We’ve held many conversations with Steve and I think he was a bit anxious after what happened last season.
“But given the ability he has and the level he has played at, we feel like he can still have a major impact on what happens for us this year.”