ANTONY SWEENEY, Hartlepool United’s club captain, yesterday ended his 13-year stay at the club.
The midfielder, third in Pools’ all-time appearance list with 444 games under his belt, has agreed a two-year deal at Carlisle United, newly-relegated to League Two.
He will be back at Victoria Park with his new club on October 4.
Sweeney made his first start at Carlisle on the opening day of the 2002/3 season and became a mainstay of the side, as a goalscoring midfielder. But last season he started only four games in a campaign when he suffered injuries and found himself out of the side.
His final start came at Cheltenham last December.
Sweeney had held talks with Carlisle boss Graham Kavanagh, as revealed in The Northern Echo two weeks ago.
Kavanagh last night said: “Antony fits the type of player we have been looking to recruit. He has experience at this level and he’s a man in terms of the way he plays his football. He’s strong and he’s capable of going box-to-box which helps when it comes to getting or creating goals.
“I’ve had a long chat with him and I know he’ll slot in to the way we want to do things.”
Sweeney’s departure means Pools have lost three midfielders after Andy Monkhouse and Simon Walton were released.
Boss Colin Cooper, who has yet to announce the identity of his assistant manager, is confident of making swift progress in the transfer market.
Former Leeds midfielder Michael Brown, who was born in Hartlepool and played for the club on loan from Man City in 1997, remains a strong possibility.
Cooper yesterday told the club’s official website: “I made Sweens an offer and gave him the opportunity to have a testimonial year.
“He was unsure what he wanted to do but he’s now chosen to leave and of course we wish him well for the future and thank him for his service over the years.
“Unfortunately he had a couple of injuries and didn’t play as many games as he would have liked to last year and now he’s gone for a fresh challenge.
“I think we all agree that change is what was needed here though and my job now is to make sure that we bring players in who are the better than the ones that have left – and that’s no disrespect to the service they gave to us.
“The positive side is that I am in negotiations with several players who I believe will improve the squad and they’re fresh faces who I hope the fans will enjoy watching next season.’’
Peter Hartley, who Pools sold to Stevenage last August, has signed a two-year contract with Plymouth Argyle.
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