AFTER spending last season frustratingly watching the team’s success away from the pitch, Luke Molyneux has gone to make his mark in the Hartlepool United side and showcase why he should be the club’s number ten.

But it could have been so different in the summer.

Once promotion from the National League had been sealed, Pools only had eight players contracted to the club with the season six weeks away.

Molyneux was one of those who was free to ply his trade elsewhere but, following discussions with the club’s hierarchy, decided to put pen-to-paper on a fresh one year contract.

However, there were interested parties waiting in the wings.

“There was a League Two team” Molyneux admitted.

“I’m glad I didn’t go there because they are struggling. Then the other one was a National League team.

“Their gaffer rang me a few times just to have a chat. But once again, I’m glad I didn’t end up going there because they have been struggling a bit this season.

“We’ve been doing really well this season so for me it’s worked out perfect and I’ve been really enjoying the season so far.”

What swing Molyneux’s head towards a move back to the Vic for this season? A frank and honest conversation with the former gaffer.

“Me and Dave Challinor had spoken a little bit in the off season before I’d sorted what I was going to do” he added.

The Northern Echo: Luke Molyneux lifts the National League Promotion Trophy. PICTURE: PA.Luke Molyneux lifts the National League Promotion Trophy. PICTURE: PA.

“The main thing for me was just playing football. We spoke a bit and I literally said to him no matter where I’m playing, I don’t care.

“I think last season, he thought I was just more bothered about playing in a certain position, staying on the right. But this year we had a chat, had a think about it and I was like I’ll play anywhere you need me to be.

“If I need to play left wing back, right wing back, striker, centre-mid, I was open to playing anywhere as long as I’m on the pitch.

“The main thing for me was to be playing. With the interest elsewhere, they said that I would be playing but if I was playing at Pools, I always wanted to stay here.”

Game time was clearly the biggest target for Molyneux and there has been no shortage of it this season. He’s made 22 appearances in all competitions this season, more than any other player in a Pools shirt.

He’s been a constant in the Pools side but in a new look role as a central striker. There’s been new parts of his game to improve but he’s taken to it with ease scoring four goals in a Pools team that’s struggled for firepower.

The Pools number ten added: “It’s a lot different when you are playing as a striker. I think the finishes as a wide player, when I’m playing wide right, the finishes are usually the same. You cut in from the right and you whip it.

“But as a striker, the finishing is a lot different. It’s like scrappy finishes and you’re not going to get a lot of time in the box and I’m starting to try and learn to be able to do them types of finishes.

“Obviously Culls (Mark Cullen) is very good at the them and when we had Lukey (Luke Armstrong) last year. You’d rarely see him score outside the six yard box so I think they are the type of finishes that I just need to get better at.

“I think I’ve always been up for learning and I think especially with the change of position, I’ve had to adapt my game a lot.

“I’ve had to change my game completely different to as if I was playing as a winger. I’ve had to be a lot stronger, I’ve had to battle a lot more, my hold up play has to be spot on.

“But I think so far, I’ve done reasonably well and I’m enjoying my football. That’s the main thing.”

The former Sunderland youngster has had his fair share of ups and downs at Victoria Park. Long term injuries and spells out of the side have been balanced out by match winning goals, against Dover in 2019 and Northampton a few weeks ago, and a promotion winning campaign.

This has all come despite being the tender age of 23. Molyneux has a fair share of experience under his belt with 77 appearances in a Pools shirt making him one of the main features in the dressing room.

The Northern Echo: Luke Molyneux in action for Hartlepool United against Newport County. PICTURE: MARK FLETCHER.Luke Molyneux in action for Hartlepool United against Newport County. PICTURE: MARK FLETCHER.

Inevitably, there will have to be further discussions to be had next summer but Molyneux wants to continue on his current trajectory and tick off a landmark number before future talks.

“This is my third season if you’re not including my loan” he said.

“I have been at the club for three or four years now. There’s not many of us that are here from when I first came on loan. I think there’s only Feath (Nicky Featherstone), I think Gav (Holohan) came around the same time but apart from that I don’t think there is anybody else.

“If you look at it like that, you could say I’m one of the longest serving players at the club.

“With appearances, I’ve been racking up a lot this season. I’m getting close to 100, I should reach the century by the end of the season.”

The number ten will be hopeful of helping the side recapturing their form after losing their fourth League Two game in a row against Swindon Town last night.