Former Sunderland Academy forward Thomas clinches improved contract at Hartlepool United

Nathan Thomas in action for Hartlepool United
Nathan Thomas in action for Hartlepool United
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Craig Hignett is not shy to hand out new deals to reward his high-performing Hartlepool United stars.

Nathan Thomas has become the third Pools player to be offered and accept a fresh deal, following Trevor Carson and Matthew Bates.

Keeper Carson, who walked away with FOUR player of the year trophies at the end of his debut season, signed a three-year contract while Bates agreed new terms following an outstanding season at the back.

It shows Pools and owners JPNG mean business as they tie down their best assets and in the case of Carson and Thomas it will mean they will be harder to prise away from the club.

Scottish club Rangers have been keeping tabs on Thomas, who joined Pools during the transfer window from Mansfield Town for an undisclosed fee.

The 21-year-old responded with some stunning form and he revelled under Hignett’s guidance, scoring five times in 21 appearances.

Thomas was a revelation, whether he was to the left or right of principal striker Billy Paynter, and has earned his new contract.

In return, Hignett will now want more consistency from the Teessider.

“You have seen what Nathan is capable of doing,” said Hignett. “I want it more consistently next year.

“we want to keep players like him who can change games and I’m delighted he’s signed.

“Nathan is an ambitious lad who wants to learn and wants to get better.

“I am sure he will and he will go on to be a real asset for the club.”

Thomas was signed by Ronnie Moore and the former Sunderland Academy product instantly thanked the Pools saviour by setting up Scott Fenwick’s winner against Wycombe on his debut.

But his best form has come under Hignett and first-team coach Curtis Fleming, following their arrival in February.

The Pools boss is aware Thomas could command a significant price tag if he maintains his progress.

“I think the development we’ve seen since we’ve been at the club has been fantastic,” he said.

“But next season if he can put in more consistent displays I think he’ll be a real handful.

“He’s another I don’t see being at the club forever.

“The way he’s going I can see there being interest in Nathan.”

Hignett said last week that he hopes Michael Woods will extend his stay at Victoria park into a third season, though there is still no news on the midfielder.

The boss is confident of keeping Rob Jones, who joined Pools on a short-term contract towards the end of last season.