Will Peterborough and Bradford striker Luke James return to Hartlepool United?

Luke James in action for Hartlepool United
Luke James in action for Hartlepool United

Luke James could be set for a shock return to Hartlepool United.

The 21-year-old is understood to be attracting the interest of two League Two clubs with a season-long loan deal at Bradford City from Peterborough United rumoured to be coming to a premature end.

Luke James in action for 'Bradford City against Bury in the FA Cup Third Round Replay

Luke James in action for 'Bradford City against Bury in the FA Cup Third Round Replay

Pools have been linked with a move for their former striker after boss Ronnie Moore confirmed this week that he was looking to tie up a deal for a forward.

James left Pools in the summer of 2014 in a big-money transfer to League One Peterborough, reputedly in the region of £500,000.

But his big move hasn’t worked out as he would have hoped, scoring just twice in 34 appearances for Posh before being shipped out to Bradford City on a season-long loan.

James has failed to score for Bradford, with no goals in 15 appearances.

In his favour he has featured in two of City’s last three games, including a start in last Tuesday’s FA Cup third-round replay with Bury

.

SportMail understands Posh don’t have a recall option, but Bradford boss Phil Parkinson is believed to be looking to re-shape his goal-shy squad in the January transfer window.

If Pools are in for James and they pull off a half-season loan, it would represent something of a gamble from the club.

The Amble-born player was simply stunning during his time at Pools, making his debut as a gifted 16-year-old and came close to keeping Pools in League One almost single-handedly in the 2012-13 season.

James then netted 16 goals in the 2013-14 season to attract the interest of many bigger teams.

His Pools departure left a sour taste in the mouths of supporters after the striker handed in two transfer requests and then failed to turn up to training at Maiden Castle for three consecutive days before the summer-long saga finally came to an end on a dramatic deadline day.

James was moved out to the Bantams after a disappointing debut season and hopes of regaining the old magic have not materialised.

While he has been in the Bradford match-day 18 for almost every match, he has made only four starts, in four different competitions, in League One, Capital One Cup, FA Trophy and FA Cup.

He has not played a full 90 minutes and has come off the bench only nine times.

His pitch-time this season totals just 379 minutes, though, in his favour he has featured in two of City’s last three games, including a start in last Tuesday’s FA Cup third-round replay with Bury.

It is hard to question the wisdom of Moore on the loan front.

The capture of Adam Jackson and Jake Gray from Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace have proven inspired moves, with the manager securing their sevices until the end of the campaign.

Last season, two of his loan men, David Mirfin and Aaron Tshibola, played pivotal roles in the great escape.

However, James would be the third player trying to find his feet at the same time as permanent signing Nathan Thomas and Ellis Harrison, who is with Pools on a month’s stay from Bristol Rovers.

Of course, that is the nature of the loan market - a club is not going to get a star-turn who plays week-in, week-out, are they?.

Should James return, it would purely be a temporary arrangement.

His long-term future lies at Posh - he is just two seasons into a four-yeasr contract.

Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony took to Twitter this week to confirm he sees James staying at London Road.

In response to a fan’s question over whether he has a future at Posh, MacAnthony tweeted: “Yes I’m confident of it next season for sure. Luke still a baby & we have him long term.”