ANDREW DAVIES has left Hartlepool United, his contract ended by mutual consent.

The centre-half was the number one signing in the summer for then manager Matthew Bates, but has been released just six months into a two-year contract which had an option for a third year.

Appointed club captain, Davies has played only 13 times this season. His last outing was at Gateshead on New Year’s Day and he has sat out the last three games.

Manager Richard Money said on Saturday that Davies was suffering from a hip injury, although he was expected to be fit to play on New Year’s Day against the Heed, and then for Saturday’s home defeat to Maidstone.

Davies wanted to return to the North-East in the summer after playing in Scotland and captaining Ross County, but he has been linked with a return to the SPL with Dundee.

Pools director of football Craig Hignett said: “Andrew is a proper professional, a great lad and someone who we wish the very best of luck for the future.

“We are sorry it hasn’t worked out here but I’m sure that wherever he goes next he will be a success.”

Davies admitted: “I am sorry that I could not achieve what I had set out to do from the day I joined Hartlepool United Football Club.

“Football is an environment where you never know what’s around the corner; we go our separate ways with mutual respect and I am grateful for having had the privilege to be captain.

“I met some great people at the club, and the fans were great with me so I wish them, the staff and everyone else associated with the club every success in the future.”

Money admitted on Saturday that moving players on in January could be part of the club’s plans.

Davies was one of the club’s highest earners, so freeing his wage up should allow some scope for Money to reshape a squad he feels is severely imbalanced.

He said: “Players leaving is not down to me. Someone needs to want them.

“Those that haven't figured a lot under me will be getting a bit anxious - that's natural. You'd like to think that they'd want to play somewhere.

“I will not be trying to push people out of the door - that would not be right of me.

“We do not have a big group and we might need people at any time.

“As the month goes on some may look to go elsewhere.’’

And after admitting he wants natural wingers in his squad he said: “We are really active to bring two or three in. They will be young, vibrant and hopefully will give us something a bit different to what we have right now.’’

Replacing Davies in the back four will become part of Money’s focus this month. While National League clubs don’t have a transfer window and can make signings all year round, the availability of players from the Football League becomes clearer this month. Hull are keen on Kenton Richardson and have regularly been watching the 19-year-old right-back, with an offer likely this month.

Pools conceded two soft goals at the weekend to Maidstone, caught out twice on the counter attack.

Money said: “It is a young back four.

“Young defenders in this league have to grow up really quickly. 99 per cent of defending is about being in the right place at the right time. If you have to react too many times, you get caught from time to time.

“It is about smelling the danger, seeing the danger.

“For young defenders in this league it is unforgiving. It is more a lack of experience of playing senior football at this level.

“Kenton is young. Harvey Rodgers has a chance of being a good defender but has made some poor decisions. They will learn from it.

“A man who never made a mistake, is a man who never did anything. They need to go through it (the mistakes), to learn from it.’’