HARTLEPOOL UNITED’S preparations for the new National League season have gathered pace with the club announcing five new signings.

Mark Shelton, Garry Liddle and Timi Odusina have all signed permanent deals after impressing during loan spells at Victoria Park, while winger Josh MacDonald and striker Rhys Oates have also joined Pools.

Dave Challinor finds himself presiding over a squad featuring 13 permanently-contracted players, with the new National League campaign due to begin at the start of October.

MacDonald’s signing was the last to be announced on Saturday afternoon, with the former Middlesbrough trainee returning to the North-East after spending the last five seasons with Halifax.

A versatile attacking player, who has spent most of his career playing as a right winger, MacDonald was at Marske United as a youngster, and was part of the Halifax side that won the FA Trophy at Wembley in 2016.

“Josh is a local lad, which always helps because he knows the area and the expectation of being a Hartlepool United player,” said Challinor. “He is someone I have known for a while, and I’m delighted to finally get him in.

“He is direct, quick and unpredictable, and definitely an asset to the team. He has had a good few years at Halifax, he knows the league and now he’s ready to commit to us.”

Oates has rejoined Pools after previously spending three years at the club between 2015-18. A forward who has made 44 appearances for League Two side Morecambe over the last two seasons, Oates replaces Luke James, who recently joined Barrow following the Cumbrian club’s promotion to the Football League.

“We all know about Rhys’ great ability,” said Challinor. “I have admired him for a few years and, as a player, you know he’s got that determined attitude that we need in this squad.

“Fans know what to expect from him, and he knows a few of the lads already so he is the perfect fit going into the busy season.”

Liddle is also back for a second permanent spell at Pools, having first joined the club under Danny Wilson in 2006.

He made 284 appearances during his first stint, and has signed a permanent deal after initially returning on loan from Walsall in January.

“As well as knowing the club so well, he has a real experienced head that we saw at the back end of last season,” said Challinor.