CRAIG HIGNETT insists Hartlepool United won’t be taken for a ride with the club’s young prospects.

Teenage defender Luca Murphy has left the club amid a contract dispute and a failed trial at Fulham.

The highly-rated 17-year-old is currently without a club. It was claimed, according to a football website this week, that a string of clubs are interested in his services.

Hignett believes the prospect has some way to go before he can forge a career in the game and turn his potential into substance.

“It’s down to attitude and bad advice,’’ said Hignett of his departure. “We offered him a pro deal, he wasn’t happy with the money and decided he didn’t want to be here. That’s fine. We are a National League club with a pool of players in their thousands to choose from.

“We don’t need to mess about. If you don’t want to be here, then tell us and you can go. He said he didn’t want to be here, so see you later.’’

The manager, with his first-team taking on Wrexham at the Super 6 Stadium tomorrow, has plenty of experience of coaching and developing teenagers from his time at Middlesbrough’s academy.

And he added: “We want players who want to be here. We want players with the right character and the right attitude. If anyone hasn't got that, we won't have time for them.

“If people make it clear they don't want to be here I do not see why we should waste our time with coaching them.

“If you don’t want to be here, you can go tomorrow. I don't care who you are - I only want people to be here who want to be here for the right reasons, football reasons.’’

If and when Murphy signs terms with a club, Pools will seek compensation for developing him from the age of nine in the club’s academy. He was on the bench for Pools game at Bromley in November last year.

He said: “We have released him but still reserve the right to compensation – if he goes somewhere else we will fight for compensation.

“We offered him a pro contract and has been in our first-team squad so he was a pro in our eyes.

“We have done all we can and he has been here since he was nine. No-one can take him for nothing, they will have to go to court and fight for it and spend money fighting it.

“Now people will see he will cost money and they will have to weigh up, when he’s on trial, if he’s worth it.’’

Jack Blackford, given a Football League debut by Hignett three years ago, is now playing for Marske United in the Northern League. He went on trial to Manchester City, Aston Villa and Rangers during his time at Pools.

With Murphy going on trial at Fulham recently while at Pools and now leaving the club, Pools will be taking a firm stance on anyone wanting to impress elsewhere.

Hignett said: “If any kid wants to go on trial then his contract ends the day he goes. I want people who are committed here.

“As a club we are going to be ruthless from now. We have a structure – you get this, you get this, you get this as you progress and we won’t break the structure for any young player.

“I want the right characters here, not those who are money-driven or money-orientated, or just a stop-gap.

“If another club comes in for someone when they are here then that’s different.

“We want players to give everything for us - we don't want them to be constantly looking for other clubs.

“Fulham claimed he failed a medical. He will keep going to these places and clubs will look at him and then how many knockbacks are you going to get and it’s hard to deal with as a young kid.

“Look at what we are doing here. We give young players a chance in the first-team when they are ready.’’

Murphy has been some way from the first-team and the brutal nature of the National League.

Hignett added: “Luca isn’t ready yet and would be bullied if he played so he has to develop and I can’t say he will play 20 games next season yet because he’s not ready.

“He could move to a club, move into their Academy and eventually, possibly, to the Under-23s and then be scratching around for a club.

“By the time he’s 23 here he could have 150 games here like others will. He will have no men’s football by the time he’s 22-23, if he’s still around.’’