Where are the old school stoppers? asks Hartlepool United boss Ronnie Moore

Alan Tate
Alan Tate

Ronnie Moore admits he may have to change his approach to finding a new central defender.

Seven days ago, the Hartlepool United boss stressed his desire to add an experienced head, a voice to guide his young back four.

We are finding it hard to get an experienced centre-half in

Ronnie Moore

Seven days on, the desire is still strong but optimism has given way to realism.

The man he wants does not appear to be available.

It is believed Moore has been close to two men which fits the ‘David Mirfin mould’ he so admires, only to get knock-backs from eith club or player.

Moore had been reluctant to take a young centre-half but is starting to admit he may now take that “risk”.

He has been scouring Under 21 and reserve games in the north and beyond with asistant Sam Collins in a bid to find new defensive strength.

“I’ve tried all week again for an experienced centre-back,” he said.

“We are finding it hard to get that player in.

“It’s hard to get one and I’ve not had this issue with a centre-back before. It’s normally a striker you find it hard to get.

“Clubs no longer seem to be carrying too many experienced defenders, they aren’t about anymore.

“It may come to the stage when we have to gamble on a young lad again and you don’t know what you are going to get in an important area.”

The risk for Moore is can the player he watches, and possibly likes the look of in an Under 21 fixture, deal with the physicality of League Two?

“I wish I could take our supporters and you lads to watch an under-21 game with me,” said Moore.

“Defenders don’t head the ball!

“Everything is on the floor, pass, pass and square passes.

“We look at them and ask if he can play in the first-team here?

“If you are playing against Cambridge or another big side with 6ft 3in centre-forwards, who will smash you all over the place, will they be able to cope?

“That’s the difficult thing, finding a young lad able to handle it?

“Academy footballers don’t learn the basics of League football – how to head it, how to play a physical game and the like.

“At youth/ Under 21 level it’s a dying art and something needs to be done about it.

“If players up at that level don’t make it and drop down the divisions or into non-league, they are going to get roughed up.

“It’s a massive problem I think.”

There could be a chink of light in the form of former Swansea City defender, Alan Tate, who fits the bill as an experienced figure and a ‘talker’ .

The 33-year-old is a free agent, having been released by the Premier League club in the summer.

The Easington-born defender, who appeared 350 times for the Swans, has made several loan stints at Leeds, Crewe, Aberdeen and Yeovil.

Tate “strolled through” a reserve-team outing for Pools on Tuesday, when the side won 3-2 at Rotherham.

Moore was impressedbut said it would be impossibleto throw him into the cauldron of a League Two clash at Dagenham & Redbridge given his shortage of match fitness.

He could be a long-term optionbut Moore would like him at Maiden Castle again to build his fitness.

“Buster [Gallagher] knows Tatey really well and he is the experienced guy we want,” said Moore. “But he needs to be fitter.

“I’m hopeful he will come with us for a couple of weeks, he’s very much in the David Mirfin mould – he’s played at all levels, including the Premier League and knows what it’s all about.

“He strolled through the reserve game at Rotherham, but they had a lot of young lads out there so it’s difficult to think about throwing him straight in at Dagenham when he’s hardly played.

“That is Roy of the Rovers stuff and ain’t gong to happen, but I hope he takes up the offer of staying.

“He has family up here which helps so we take it from there and see what happens.”

Moore has made one defensive addition – Luke Hendrie joining on a month’s loan from Burnley.

The son of former Mewcastle and Middlesbrough forward/ winger John, Luke will make his debut at right-back tomorrow with Michael Duckworth still not match-fit “Luke is a good player I almost signed pre-season,” said Moore. “It was between him and Carl Magnay.

“They do similar roles, though Luke doesn’t play centre-half.

“He is a right-back, who can play left-back and in midfield too.

“He is an energetic player and if Ducky is going to be fit [to play right-back] then gives us an option for box to box energy.

“I’ve seen him play four times last year for Derby Under-21s at right-back. His dad is an ex-player, so he’s been brought up the right way.”