What does future hold for wantaway Hartlepool United striker Luke James?

WANTS TO LEAVE: Luke James. Picture by FRANK REID
WANTS TO LEAVE: Luke James. Picture by FRANK REID

TODAY could prove a pivotal day for the future of Hartlepool United, Colin Cooper and Luke James.

Cooper will sit down with his want-away star who last night handed in a second written transfer request after having the first turned down earlier this week.

His first attempt rocked the Clarence Road club on Monday teatime but after almost a fortnight of intense speculation over his future, perhaps it should not have come as a surprise.

James has already been the subject of an unsuccessful bid from Peterborough United – believed to be close to £1m – as they look to tempt last season’s top goalscorer away from Victoria Park.

Posh, of course, signed Jack Baldwin on transfer deadline day in January for £500,000 and have since added Middlesbrough defender Christian Burgess to their ranks, the defender penning a four-year contract.

Burgess had been a loan transfer target of Cooper, who was looking to bring him back after a successful stay last season but he has joined Darren Ferguson’s Posh.

It is almost like Peterborough United are taunting Pools.

Whether £1m rated James is the next through the entrance door at London Road remains to be seen.

Speaking on Tuesday night, Ferguson warned Pools they won’t be upping their bid for the highly-rated teenager and say they may look to move on to other targets.

Cooper wouldn’t say too much about the speculation other than to confirm that he planned to sit down and talk with James today.

It is likely to be the most important meeting the Pools manager has ever held since taking the reins at the club last summer.

Can he convince James that his short term future lies with Pools, that the striker would be best off staying at the Clarence Road club until at least the end of the season to further his development here?

The Northumberland teenager signed a new contract in the summer, the length of which hasn’t been revealed but you would expect it to be at least two years, so Pools are in a strong bargaining position.

It is whether they feel they could reject a bid of £1m or higher if Posh came back in as the clock ticks down towards the end of the transfer window, which slams shut on Monday, September 1.

Cooper has previously bemoaned the fact that the window doesn’t shut before the season begins and you have to have some sympathy with him.

It would cause Pools a lot of turmoil if they did have to replace their star striker with just days left of the transfer market.

Truth be told, Pools are having enough trouble bringing in the reinforcements needed now – including up front – and that is without current players leaving and having to be replaced.

The cause for concern for fans is whether the manager would actually be given any of the proceeds of a sale anyway.

Although yet to score this season, losing James would be a hammer-blow to an already struggling Pools side and you would have to fear the worst without his goals over the upcoming campaign.

On Tuesday night, Ferguson finally went on record confirming his club’s interest in James but said they wouldn’t be increasing their bid and said as things stand the deal is “dead in the water”.

He insisted Peterborough won’t be held to ransom by any club with an eye on too big a slice of the £5.5m they received for their striker Britt Assombalonga when he moved to Nottingham Forest.

The Posh manager told the Peterborough Telegraph he is ready to move on to other targets if James remains elusive.

But Posh remain firmly interested and the likelihood is the ongoing James saga will go right up until the end of the current transfer window.

James’ decision to hand in a written transfer request hasn’t seemed to affect his relationship with the Pools supporters at least.

He was given a warm reception from fans inside Victoria Park ahead of the Dagenham & Redbridge defeat, who appreciate all he has done for the club and wouldn’t begrudge him a big move.

In return he put in his usual tireless shift up front, showing good pace, strength and energy just lacking that killer touch in front of goal against the Daggers.

Not that you would expect anything less from popular James, who works his socks off every match he plays.

His time at a ‘bigger club’ will come, and probably soon, but Cooper will be hoping that time hasn’t arrived just yet.

One thing is for sure though, it is going to be an interesting final few days of the summer transfer window.