Hartlepool United’s Paul Murray intends to keep playing on into next season

Paul Murray battles for the ball.
Paul Murray battles for the ball.
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PAUL Murray has declared his intention to play on beyond the end of this season – and he’d like that to be at Hartlepool United.

The midfield anchor took the man-of-the-match prize during Saturday’s goalless draw with Bournemouth at a frost-bitten Victoria Park.

Murray continues to defy his ageing limbs – he turns 36 this summer – and has worked his way to the forefront of manager Neale Cooper’s plans.

And the Cumbrian says he is determined to extend a playing career which began with his hometown club Carlisle United back in 1994.

“You can see for yourself how much I’ve got left to give,” said Murray when pressed on whether this would be his farewell campaign.

“The enthusiasm is still there and I still enjoy all the running about. At 30 I thought ‘my days are numbered’, what with a knee injury I had.

“But the club have helped and I have a few injections now and then. I have missed a lot of football in my career through injuries, but things are going well at the moment.

“If I continue and go on and then yeah, I want to prolong my career. Whether it’s here or not I don’t know – but I definitely want to play on for another year if I can and I’m enjoying it here.”

Murray attributes his current form not only to the motivational skills of Neale Cooper, but also the extra strength and conditioning work he has been doing.

“Obviously I’m not as fit as I used to be but I’m in the best physical condition I have ever have been,” he explained.

Murray was at his combative best against the Cherries and, having admitted Pools fell a little short collectively, he was pleased to take a point against the league’s biggest January spenders.

“We weren’t quite there really and all of us were generally a yard off, ” he said. “It was disappointing but you can build from a clean sheet.

“That puts us unbeaten in five now, and a month or two ago we would have lost that.”

The game was as low on entertainment as it was on temperature.

Bournemouth did look the more likely scorers with Steven Cook’s header hacked from the line by a handily-placed Evan Horwood, while Wesley Thomas should have done better when blazing over from close range.

There was one late chance for Pools’ Peter Hartley but he headed straight at Flahavan from Horwood’s enticing centre.

Hartlepool: Flinders, Austin, Hartley, Collins, Horwood, Sweeney, Liddle, Murray, Monkhouse, James (Nish 70), Brown. Subs Not Used: Rafferty, Humphreys, Haslam, Baldwin. Booked: Austin, James, Liddle. Bournemouth: Flahavan, Francis, Cook, Zubar, Daniels, Pugh, Gregory, MacDonald (Arter 63), Malone (McDermott 62), Tubbs, Wesley Thomas (Fletcher 82). Subs Not Used: Dan Thomas, Purches. Att: 4, 548 Ref: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire).