The low-down on Hartlepool United's latest signing Joe Bunney and how former Rochdale and Bolton Wanderers defender will fit into Dave Challinor's side

Hartlepool United have completed the signing of former Bolton Wanderers left-back Joe Bunney on a short term deal.

Tuesday, 1st December 2020, 10:31 am

The 27-year-old had been playing in the Northern Premier Premier Division with Matlock Town during the early part of the 2020-21 campaign but has now made the return to full-time football with Pools.

Manchester-born Bunney has played the majority of his career to date in League One with Rochdale – he has also had spells in the third tier with Northampton Town, Blackpool and most recently Bolton Wanderers.

Bunney is available for selection in Tuesday night’s National League match at Solihull Moors (7.45pm kick-off).

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Here's the low-down on Pools’ latest signing…

Early career

Bunney started his career as a striker in non-league football with Northern Premier Division One North side Lancaster City as a teenager. During his time at Lancaster, he studied sports science at the nearby Myerscough College.

But it was an impressive 19 goal spell at Northwich Victoria that caught the eye of League One side Rochdale.

Joe Bunney of Northampton Town in action during the Sky Bet League Two match between Northampton Town and Plymouth Argyle at PTS Academy Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

After arriving at Rochdale, Bunney scored the winner on his professional Football League debut against Plymouth Argyle.

Answering manager criticism

In September 2015, Bunney’s professional career was under threat when Rochdale manager Keith Hill launched a remarkable attack after the then 21-year-old had just scored in a 2-1 win over Scunthorpe United.

In a BBC Radio Manchester interview, Hill labelled Bunney as ‘an amateur’ almost two years after his arrival.

"Joe was very close this week to maybe going to pastures new. He's given himself a lifeline," Hill said at the time.

That season ended up being Bunney’s most productive in a Rochdale shirt as he went on to net nine goals in 32 League One matches during the 2015-16 campaign.

He then left Rochdale after scoring 17 goals in 144 appearances over a five-year spell.

Leaving Rochdale

Bunney’s career has wavered in recent seasons with Pools now his sixth club, including loan spells, after first leaving Rochdale in 2018.

He’s since made a respectable 39 appearances in the EFL but has not scored since November 2016.

Last season, Bunney endured a traumatic spell at Bolton as he had to wait four months to make his debut for the club after breaking his ribs and collarbone in a car crash shortly after signing.

He went on to play just two first-team games before the season was shut down. He was later offered to trial with Bolton in the summer but the club decided to explore their options elsewhere following relegation to League Two as Bunney dropped back into non-league football with Matlock Town while also training at AFC Fylde.

At Pools

Bunney’s arrival is a timely one ahead of a brutal month of 10 scheduled fixtures. The short term deal also allows Pools to try and test the player before making a significant financial commitment.

Despite being a striker in the earlier part of his career, Bunney has since established himself as an attacking full-back in the EFL.

His versatility will undoubtedly come in useful with Pools needing cover for David Ferguson at left-back while question marks over their striking options remain.

The 27-year-old may have to rediscover his shooting boots, but on the whole, it looks like a sensible piece of business by Dave Challinor to bolster his small squad.

A message from the Football Clubs Editor

Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Hartlepool United coverage 365 days a year.

This depth of coverage costs, so to help us maintain the high-quality reporting that you are used to, please consider taking out a subscription to our new sports-only package here.

Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor