COLIN COOPER isn’t quite armed with £500,000 in the transfer market, but the Hartlepool United boss is looking to make the most of what he can.
Pools last week raked in half a million pounds from the sale of Jack Baldwin to Peterborough.
Any notion that Pools have money to blow or that the fee will be used to keep the club going can be instantly dismissed. The club, under IOR Ltd, doesn’t operate from hand to mouth.
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Instead, Cooper will be granted some scope to boost his squad. The loan market reopens tomorrow and he has an eye on making improvements.
One player unlikely to return is Matty Dolan.
The midfielder made 25 appearances for Pools on loan before being recalled by Middlesbrough. Last week, however, he was set to move to Bradford permanently and, with interest from Oldham, he will leave the Riverside.
“Matty is a Boro player. He was happy to be here and I think when he was recalled, both Matty and his father thought that was it,’’ admitted Cooper.
“I’ve not heard from either of them since he went back so I can only presume they feel their time here is done.
“What he chooses to do is up to him and I would have loved to have kept him here, but he wasn’t our player and at some point loan players always go back to their parent club.’’ Pools also have Luke Williams on loan from Boro, while a number of their younger talents have been sent to other clubs to further develop their careers.
Boro boss Aitor Karanka said: “I’m happy with the squad now and if something does happen (signing loans) it’s because we need one player for one injury or maybe one of the players, who are now on loan like Luke Williams, Adam Reach or Richie Smallwood are playing well, then we could recall one of them.
“Matty will go back out on loan to Bradford.”
Sam Collins slotted into Baldwin’s spot last weekend and Pools kept a clean sheet against Scunthorpe.
The 36-year-old has been a bit-part player this season, but he will be given every chance to keep his place.
“We look to boost the squad all the time.
“Having been very much on the edge of our budget, we now have the chance if we see someone to make us better we can go for the loan thing,’’ revealed Cooper.
“Sam coming in last week, you could tell he was enjoying himself. He grew into the game. You want that from an experienced player who can have a positive impact on the game and those players around him.
“Jack was plucked from nowhere, has been developed and I’d like to think we have continued his development from the start of the season.
“Now the job is to find the next one. But with someone like Sam in there, he’s a real help with the younger centre-halves and has been keen to have an input.
“I’ve a couple of ideas in my head, but that’s no disrespect to Sam. And if his legs are willing to go for the next umpteen games, then crack on.
“But it would be very naive not to look elsewhere.
We are basically down to 18- 20 players and that’s a dangerous place to be for a club like us.
“We have seen teams come to the Vic and only put five or six subs on the bench. I don’t think we are there yet, but injuries mean we aren’t too far off.’’ Cooper has two loan signings in Jack Barmby and Williams in his squad right now. Anyone else arriving must be good enough to go straight into the side and not be wasted on the bench.
“Even if we are looking, we aim to find someone to improve us then the improvement should be good enough to go straight into the team,’’ admitted Cooper.
“That’s the difficult bit, trying to find players who desperately want to be here – a really important criteria for me.’’ Jordan Richards played 45 minutes in the reserves’ 6-0 win over Rotherham on Wednesday evening – the second string put nine past the Millers in a previous meeting this season.
Richards is on stand-by in case Neil Austin isn’t fit. The captain suffered a badly bruised big toe last weekend and is a doubt.