HARTLEPOOL United manager Graeme Lee has revealed Stoke City’s decision against extending Eddy Jones’ loan at the club was due to a lack of game time.

Jones had mad just six appearances for the club since signing on a half season loan on transfer deadline day in August. Following talks with the Potters last week, the decision was made for Jones to stay at the Championship side with a view to potentially sending him on loan elsewhere.

A left-back by trade, Jones has been below David Ferguson in the pecking order at the club with the 27-year-old being a mainstay in the side since his permanent move from York City in the summer of 2020.

Manager Lee says the club were keen to keep him within the squad but ultimately understand why Jones won’t be coming back to the Suit Direct Stadium.

The Pools boss said: “Stoke have got their development pathways for their players. They send them on loan, the want them playing games, they want them developing.

“They just felt if he wasn’t going to be starting week in week out then they were going to bring him back and assess him.

“He want back, he trained with the first-team and they were very happy with him. They said to me if there is any change, if he’s going to start week in week out then he will come back if he’s needed but I think they’re looking to get him on a loan where he will get more game time.

“It’s difficult. I rated Eddy and if he got in the team, it would have been tough to get out but Fergie (David Ferguson) has been in since I came here and his performances have been good. The second half performance especially the other day is where Fergie needs to be at.

“He (Jones) had a challenge. Obviously with Stoke, it’s fair to them. They want to protect their players, they want to make sure they are getting some time and use the loans for their benefits so it’s unfortunate.

“We would have liked to have kept Eddy because of what he is and I knew if he came into the team he wouldn’t have let us down. He showed that against Bolton. Unfortunately it gets taken out of your hands sometimes.”

In terms of departures elsewhere in the squad, the manager added that attentions are now turning to see how they can potentially trim things down before the end of the January transfer window.  

“I’ve had discussions both ways. Ins and outs.” Lee added.

“We’ve had discussions and I’ve said there will be areas where we want to improve on and there are areas where we the lads won’t get game time themselves. It’s in discussions at the moment.”

Goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell is currently locked in discussions with the club over a new contract with an offer being tabled by Pools. However, Mitchell is yet to put pen-to-paper on a deal which has forced the club into a different avenue in terms of transfer plans.

Lee revealed: “Jonno got offered something and his decision at the moment is not clear so we are looking in that area at the moment to bring somebody in if we can.”