WHILE Hartlepool United continue their hunt for new strikers, Paul Hartley has highlighted the need for defensive reinforcements with the manager having to field players out of position to cover those areas for recent friendlies.

Holding midfielder Mohammed Niang started at centre half for their pre-season friendly win over Marske United on Tuesday night. A second half number of changes saw Raegan Ogle move inside from full-back to centre half alongside Niang as Hartley looked to get more minutes into his players legs.

Central defender Euan Murray has been out for the last two games through injury leaving Alex Lacey as the only fit centre back in the squad. Gary Liddle, Timi Odusina and Neill Byrne have all departed the club this summer leaving them short in those areas.

While that is something Hartley is looking to rectify, he was quick to praise the performance of Ogle on Tuesday evening. “I thought he did well when he went in there” he said.

“He’s a good athlete, a strong runner of the ball with good pace but we’re short in that area especially with Muzza (Murray) being out.

“We’re playing midfielders and full-backs in at centre half area but needs must.”

Pools continue to work behind the scenes for new signings with Hartley hopeful they are not far away with ‘one or two’ signings in the near future. Improving the attacking department remains a priority with Marcus Carver standing alone as the only number nine in the squad.

Pools return to pre-season action this weekend when they host League One side Lincoln City at the Suit Direct Stadium. Further friendlies against Blackburn Rovers and Sunderland on home soil follow suit before their season opening game against Walsall.

Murray is expected to miss the game against the Imps as Hartley continued: “I don’t think he’s too far. He’ll be back with the physios for the next few days and then we will look to get him back into full training on Monday.”

Full-back Jamie Sterry is also continuing to struggle with an injury on his own but the problem appears less severe with the manager hopeful that he can make a return. “If he comes through the next couple of days, he will definitely be involved on Saturday at some point” added Hartley.

Meanwhile, the Pools boss has given an update on the future of Jordan Cook with the forward working his way back from long term injury.

The 31-year-old was offered a new contract last month but Hartley revealed that will need to be reviewed in the near future.