FIVE players have been released by Hartlepool United – with the club in talks with eight of the current squad over their futures.

Jake Cassidy, David Edgar, Paddy McLaughlin, Lewis Hawkins and Connor Newton have departed, with McLaughlin already signing a two-year deal with York.

Pools have taken up options to keep Ryan Catterick, Aaron Cunningham, Josh Hawkes, Peter Kioso, Kenton Richardson and Niko Muir.

Only four players were already under contract: Adam Bale, Luke James, Fraser Kerr and Mark Kitching.

But Pools have yet to confirm the futures of the majority of their experienced players in the current squad.

Myles Anderson, Ryan Donaldson, Nicky Featherstone, Gavan Holohan, Scott Loach, Carl Magnay, Liam Noble and Luke Williams are still in talks with manager Craig Hignett.

Some of those players have been offered a new deal, but on reduced terms to their current contracts and are among the higher earners in the squad.

Edgar is expected to move back to Canada now his short-term deal has expired, while Hawkins impressed on loan at Spennymoor in recent weeks, but has not been part of the Pools team for a while.

Newton has proved a major disappointment since signing two years ago and one of the bigger earners at the club made only 29 National League starts.

His and Cassidy’s release means that only Loach and Cassidy remain of the players signed by then manager Craig Harrison and then director of football Paul Watson at the start of Pools first season in the National League - and they could yet depart.

Williams signed last August, but failed to appear after suffering a knee injury which required two different operations. He resumed training towards the end of the campaign but was not deemed fit enough to be involved.

It is understood that an incentive-based contract is on the cards, heavily based on the amount of games he plays.

Manager Hignett said the club will not rush into making decisions: “Work is continuing at a good pace behind the scenes and there is so much positivity around the place but I want to make it totally clear that the club will continue to do things in their own time.

“That doesn’t mean that we’re not on top of things because we’re absolutely certain about where we are and where we need to go.

“Whilst we really want to keep you all informed, we will only do that when things are done and dusted and not while we’re in the process of doing them but I do want to reassure everyone we have a very clear picture of what we’re doing and I feel like everything to do with this club is on the up.’’

Pools this week signed striker Nicke Kabamba after a successful loan.