Veteran keeper Steve Harper may fit the bill for Hartlepool United following Hull release

Steve Harper
Steve Harper
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Goalkeeper Scott Flinders’ future at Hartlepool United remains in the balance – but the club could have a ready-made replacement in veteran Steve Harper.

The Easington-born keeper has been released by Hull City after their relegation from the Premier League and the 40-year-old is known to favour a move closer to home.

Harper, who enjoyed a loan spell at Pools in 1997, is keen to keep playing and is also interested in moving into coaching after almost 25 years between the sticks.

Pools have offered last season’s captain Flinders a new contract, on reduced terms, but it is understood that he is set to leave after a six-year stay.

Pools have been without a goalkeeping coach since Stephen Pears left earlier this year, while reserve keeper Jonny Maxted was released at the end of the season.

Strengthening that area will be a key priority for boss Ronnie Moore, and a player-coach role could appeal to ex-Newcastle goalie Harper, who holds a level four (UEFA A Licence) coaching qualification.

Harper’s coach at Hull was ex-Pools goalie coach Gary Walsh, who left Victoria Park in 2011, who Harper praised for “keeping him going” in recent months.

The veteran keeper, who played the last seven matches of Hull’s season, insists he still has the appetite to keep playing but is keen on a coaching role.

“I do actually [still have the appetite],” Harper told the Hull Daily Mail.

“I would have hated being sat there watching the last seven games from the bench.

“I’ve felt good, I’ve felt sharp. Walshy has done a great job of keeping me going. He’s done ever so well for me.

“If the right coaching job came up I would consider it.

“I’ll be honest and say I’ve had a few calls about keeping going so we’ll see.

“If the phone rings with something that’s worthwhile then I’ll consider it.”

Meanwhile, Hartlepool have snapped up 20-year-old striker Rhys Oates, who has been freed by Barnsley.

Boss Moore hopes 6ft 2in frontman Oates will add much-needed competition to fellow signing Rakish Bingham and this term’s top league scorer, Scott Fenwick.

Pontefract-born Oates was released from Oakwell at the end of the season, having been on the Tykes’ books since the age of six. The length of Oates’ Pools contract has not been released.

Pools have also tied highly-rated defender Dan Jones down to a new, improved contract. The 20-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough season with the club this season and played almost every game after Moore was named as manager in December.