HARTLEPOOL United remain locked in a negotiating battle to keep defender Timi Odusina as the club travel to their pre-season training camp with Portugal without him.

Odusina’s contract is due up in a matter of days and Pools have been fighting hard to extend his stay following a breakout year in League Two. However, it’s understood that the club have seen certain demands as unrealistic. While Chairman Raj Singh has made his intentions clear to back the club during the transfer window, they remain in firm in their stance of not breaking the bank to extend players deals or make new signings.

The club recently lost last season’s top scorer Luke Molyneux who made the switch to fellow League Two side Doncaster Rovers following the expiration of his deal at Pools while forward Jordan Cook is yet to put pen-to-paper after being offered a new contract.

The 22-year-old Odusina signed for the club in the summer of 2020 after a brief loan spell at the Suit Direct Stadium but struggled to break into the first-team as Pools achieved promotion from the National League. His first year in the Football League saw him excel in the heart of defence under manager Graeme Lee as he cemented a place in their backline. During his two-and-a-half years in the North-East, the former AFC Fylde loanee has featured 82 times.

However, following an impressive season, there has been reported interest in Odusina with fellow League Two side Bradford City said to be monitoring his situation while the defender keeps his options open.

Odusina has not travelled with the Pools squad to Portugal as they spend the next five days in a warm weather training camp.

Manager Paul Hartley said: “It will be really warm. Training times will be different, we’ll do triple sessions. Obviously we’ve got the game in between against Hibs which will be good to get some minutes into the players.

“The next week is to stay injury free, get our points across tactically and hard work, rest and recover. It’s a great facility that we are going to, on the grass. It is just to get to know people better.

“There will be new signings coming in. It’s really helpful for them to get to know the lads better.”

New Pools manager Hartley has been busy in the transfer market using his contacts north of the border in Scotland. Full-back Reghan Tumilty was the first to make the move to the Suit Direct Stadium whilst defenders Alex Lacey and Euan Murray completed permanent switches to the club. Bringing three defenders to the club would fill a considerable gap left by any potential departure by Odusina while Gary Liddle has also left to make the move to South Shields.

Defensive midfielder Mohammed Niang and forward Jake Hastie have also made the switch from Scotland to the North-East. Further signings are expected in the coming weeks with Pools gearing up for their season opening game away to Walsall in just over a month’s time.