Joe Ramage: Ex-Sunderland youngster strengthens his hand in Hartlepool United contract negotiations

It may have been his first hat-trick for Hartlepool United – and it could well be his last – but if this is the end for Luke Molyneux at the Suit Direct Stadium then he’s going out with a bang.

By Joe Ramage
Thursday, 5th May 2022, 1:00 pm

Molyneux swept the board at the club’s end of season awards ceremony picking up both the player of the year and fans player of the year accolades before capping the night with the goal of the season gong for his fabulous strike at Harrogate Town in March.

But with the 24-year-old out of contract in the summer, and no new deal yet to be agreed, it means Molyneux’s treble haul of awards could become his parting shot for the club.

It has been around three months since Molyneux opened dialogue with the club over a new contract. When I asked him back in March about his current situation and whether he would like to remain with the club, of course, he said yes. As would most players.

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Luke Molyneux was named Hartlepool United's player of the season, fans' player of the season and received the goal of the season award. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

But with Molyneux you feel there was a sense of sincerity to his response.

This season has been a breakout year for him. After leaving his boyhood club, Sunderland, having struggled to force his way into Jack Ross’ plans back in 2018 he headed out to Gateshead before spending the second half of that season with Pools. It was here where he found a home.

And having chosen to remain with the club last summer, Molyneux has made the most of the opportunities which have come his way this year by helping to lead Pools to safety.

12 goals represents his best haul to date, many of them eye-catching strikes, which in turn has seen his stock rise.

Could Luke Molyneux be set for his Hartlepool United exit. (Credit: Will Matthews | MI News)

Molyneux’s stand-off with the club over a new deal could be down to a multitude of things. Graeme Lee has suggested that some players have been ‘unrealistic’ in their negotiations, perhaps Molyneux is one of those feeling he is deserving of a better contract.

We know there is significant interest in Molyneux from League One and the Scottish Premiership, maybe he has been waiting to see if any of that interest firms up.

But whatever the circumstances, Molyneux’s hand in negotiations was only strengthened by his sweep of the Pools awards.

And at this stage you find it almost difficult to begrudge the former Sunderland man another crack at a higher level.

At 24, Molyneux still has much of his career in front of him.

This year seems to have matured him as a player as he has shouldered that responsibility in the absence of Rhys Oates and Luke Armstrong. If the opportunity does arise for him to play at a higher level, it is something he has to, and will, consider.

The unfortunate irony in all of this is, with Molyneux claiming the player of the year double, he could now be set to follow in the footsteps of last season’s double winner, Oates, in exiting the Suit Direct Stadium.

Pools host their final game of the season against Colchester United this weekend, a game Molyneux will be expected to feature in unless we have anymore freak training ground injuries.

Perhaps we’ll get our answer from his demeanour after the final whistle has blown on the season, and maybe his Pools career.