Hartlepool United look to keep a lid on Gary

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GARY Liddle expects to remain a Hartlepool United player next season, writes Craig Hope.

The 25-year-old did not sign the new contract offered to him by the club last May and Pools were forced to invoke a one-year extension option.

That deal expires this summer and there had been fears that Liddle could walk away as a free agent.

But the midfielder, right, who was watched by the likes of Huddersfield Town and former club Middlesbrough towards the back end of last season, now looks set to remain at Victoria Park.

“There are a lot of players out of contract this summer,” said Liddle, who is among a number including Adam Boyd, James Brown, Paul Murray, Steve Haslam, Colin Larkin and Nobby Solano whose deals are up for renewal.

“Neale (Cooper) is a relatively new manager and he’ll have his own ideas. If players are out of contract there might be a handful that he does not want.

“He’ll look to ship them out and create a bit of space for his own people. If players can perform well between now and the end of the season – including myself – then hopefully we’ll be okay.

“I think it will be a good year next season with Neale in charge and hopefully, it will be a successful one.”

Cooper will no doubt be keen to retain the services of Liddle, but the future of several other first-team squad members is not so certain.

The Scottish boss has already stated the remaining matches are something of a trial period for many of his squad. And Liddle believes there is plenty still to play for over the next four games.

“In terms of league position I still think we’ve got a lot to aim for,” he said, with 12th-placed Pools still capable of finishing anywhere between 22nd and eighth.

“You have to put it in in training and on the pitch. You’ve got to do it for yourself, as well.

“I know my form could be a little bit better. A few of the other lads think the same about their form.

“We haven’t got the results we perhaps wanted recently and we need to pick up again over these next four games.”

Pools’ next game is at home to Chesterfield this weekend.

It is another chance to end a seven-hour goal drought on home soil which was extended during the Easter Monday stalemate with Brentford.

That came on the same day Pools opened for business for season-ticket renewals.

“If fans can see what the manager is trying to do and what the lads are giving in terms of work-rate, then hopefully, we can all have a good year and they’ll get behind us again,” Liddle added.

“We need to show we mean business in this division and I think we can surprise a few people.”