Worrying times, admits out of contract Liddle

DEAL OR NO DEAL: Gary Liddle

DEAL OR NO DEAL: Gary Liddle

First published in Sport The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

GARY Liddle wants to stay at Hartlepool United and help engineer an improvement next season - but admits it's a worrying time for out of contract footballers.

Neale Cooper will sit his players down today and start informing them if they have futures at Victoria Park.

With plenty of decisions to be made and with Cooper desperate to stamp his own mark on the squad after what he termed an "average" season, there's decisions to follow on a number of players.

Colin Larkin, Steve Haslam, Callum Hassan, Adam Boyd and Nobby Solano are likely to be freed, while there's question marks over the futures of Liddle, James Brown and Paul Murray.

Liddle, a regular in his six seasons at Victoria Park, with 282 games under his belt and in the top 20 appearance makers for the club, was kept on by the club 12 months ago when they took up a year's option on his deal.

At the time he was linked with a return to Middlesbrough, while Huddersfield were also interested.

Now he waits to see if new terms will be offered by Cooper at Victoria Park.

"There's 12 or 13 of us out of contract players, including young lads, and we all find out one way or the other if we get offered something or don't get offered something,'' he said.

"Hopefully the lads he (Cooper) wants to keep will stay here. He has come in and said in the press he wants his own players and his own team. Does that mean we know who will be leaving? None of us have a clue and haven't been told.

"We will find out in the next few days.''

He added: "It's a nervous time and it always is for a professional footballer.

"You've got mortgages, bills and cars to pay off and you could be out of a job. Hopefully he will keep most of the lads here.

"We have a good squad, a good core of a team to build on and looking to next year we can get better.''

Pools ended a comfortable 13th in League One, and since being promoted from the bottom division in 2003, they have spent eight seasons at a higher level. This campaign was their fifth successive season in the same division.

And, after going down 3-2 at champions Charlton at the weekend, Liddle admits it's a case of what might have been since a record-breaking start back in August.

"We have finished one point off last year, but it's been a very inconsistent year, at home especially. We always wonder if we had got a few home wins then who knows?''he said.

"You look at the teams above us chasing the play-offs and we have matched them, away from home especially. There's no reason why we couldn't do that.

"We have failed to perform at home, away form has been better.

"We are good on the counter attack away from home, but we find it harder at home when we have to take the game to the opposition.

"Results have showed that.

"We had a great start, but didn't keep it up. We played Carlisle and Stevenage and more than matched them both and they were in and around the play-offs.

"If they can do it why can't we? It's a tight league, but if you are in the top five then you totally deserve to be there - but there's been other places up for grabs and there's no reason why we can't make it next year.

"We should be vying for those places definitely.

"The division this season wasn't as strong as previous and the table shows that with the teams going for the play-offs. There's teams coming up on a high we will come up against and teams coming down are big clubs - Portsmouth and Coventry.

"You expect the big clubs to be in and around there, but we can get a decent squad together to challenge and get the home form sorted.''

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