LEAGUE TWO newcomers Hartlepool have made a double breakthrough after securing the futures of experienced defender Gary Liddle and key midfielder Nicky Featherstone.

Manager Dave Challinor revealed in the wake of the club’s dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Torquay in last month’s National League play-off final at Ashton Gate that the club would have only five contracted players on the books within days.

Now 35-year-old Liddle, who is in his second spell at Victoria Park and has 326 appearances under his belt, has signed a 12-month contract and Featherstone, who joined Hartlepool in 2014, has agreed a two-year deal.

Liddle, who completed a permanent return from Walsall last summer following a loan spell, told the club’s official website: “I’m really pleased to have signed. It really wasn’t difficult for me or my family at all.

“Coming back permanently a year ago, I was determined to play a part in helping get this club back to where it was when I left all those years ago in 2012.”

Featherstone added: “I am delighted to reach this agreement with the club. It’s certainly exciting times for everyone involved and we are looking to continue on from last season’s success.

“I have loved every moment at Hartlepool and despite it being such an odd season, seeing all the fans in Bristol after sealing promotion just makes all us eager to start the new campaign.”