Paul Hartley acknowledges Hartlepool United transfer concerns after Tranmere Rovers and Bradford City exits
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It’s already been a busy summer for Pools with several exits being compensated by a host of new arrivals.
But Pools remain light when it comes to the size of their squad in certain areas of the pitch, with Hartley keen to bring in quality as well as quantity.
The former Celtic and Hearts midfielder insists, however, he knew the size of the job in hand this summer before taking over and believes he will have a squad capable of competing when they head to the Banks’s Stadium for the opening day of the season against Walsall.
“We understand fans will want to see players coming in all the time,” Hartley told The Mail.
“It’s a football club. Players come and go. I said that we want to keep players here who are happy here. Some players [who left] it was out of our hands to keep them here.
“Some players want to have a new adventure. Some players wanted to go because they want to be near their family, and I understand that.
“I can see where fans are coming from, but I can assure them there will be a lot of business happening here over the next week to 10 days before the start of the season so they should be excited.
“We want to bring a real bit of quality into the group and we’re working really hard. We’re working non-stop, so it’s not as though we’re not doing anything about it.”
But while Hartley and his staff, including head of recruitment Chris Trotter, continue to work hard behind the scenes to bolster the Pools squad, there can be no escaping the significance of some of the players to have departed the Suit Direct Stadium this summer.
The trio of Gary Liddle, Luke Molyneux, and Timi Odusina - each of whom were key in preserving Pools’ EFL status last season - all chose against signing a new deal this summer before joining new clubs.
January’s marquee signing, Omar Bogle, was a surprise exit during Pools’ pre-season training camp in the Algarve with the striker opting for a move to Newport County just five months into his two-and-a-half-year deal with the club before defender Neill Byrne also headed for the exit to join Tranmere Rovers.
It led to Hartley issuing a statement via the club to address those specific exits with supporters growing concerned over the club’s dealings.
“We know Luke is a very talented player. He’s one that we wanted to keep,” Hartley said.
“We made him a very good offer but he wanted to explore something else and he got another offer from Doncaster and he took that option up.
“I spoke to him at length and told him our plans and the ambitions of the club but he decided to go elsewhere.
“We made the offer to him what we thought was fair for us. I did want to keep him but sometimes that happens and players want to try and explore a different option.
On Odusina, Hartley said: “We spoke to Timi and we made him an offer. We spoke at length over the phone and then I spoke to him when we were back [in training].
“He wanted to move onto a different club. He wanted to try something new. We fought hard to keep him but it’s football.
“Players come and go. They want to try something else and I’ve no issue with that. He’s a very good player but obviously I inherited a situation when I came in that meant we had some players out of contract, and with Luke and Timi we did want to keep them but sometimes it’s hard when they want to try something different.”
The situation was slightly different with both Byrne and Bogle with both players still under contract at the club.
But Hartley has often suggested he is unwilling to hold onto players who see their future away from the club and that proved to be the case with Bogle, who wanted to explore the opportunity of linking back up with former coach James Rowberry at Rodney Parade, and Byrne who expressed a desire to be closer to home with his family.
“There was an opportunity for Omar to go to Newport and he wanted to take that up,” said Hartley.
“I only want players who are very happy at the club - and that’s not to say that Omar wasn’t happy, but he thought it was a situation he could explore.
Hartley added: “The first conversation I had with Neill’s agent when I first came into the job was that Neill wanted to get back home for family reasons.
“When I spoke to Neill when he came back that’s what his decision was, that he wanted to get back home closer to his girlfriend and his family down in Liverpool.
“We need to keep players here who are happy and who want to be here. We don’t want unhappy players, and we said that to Neill.
“He was a great lad who didn’t cause me any bother, but he wanted to go somewhere else and we want to keep players at the club who want to be here and want to be happy, so Neill moves on with our best wishes.”