Exciting summer ahead for Hartlepool United’s Neale Cooper

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NEALE Cooper bid farewell to a “frustrating” season before declaring: “Now for the exciting part”.

The Pools chief has long since promised to overhaul his Pools squad ahead of the next campaign.

And today he will set about that task – identifying his top transfer targets and deciding on the players who will not be at Victoria Park beyond this week.

The club are expected to announce the names of those who will be released on Wednesday, freeing funds for Cooper to set about his summer renovation.

And, reflecting on a 13th-placed finish in the wake of Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at champions Charlton Athletic, the Pools boss said: “When I came back the job was to stay in the league.

“We’ve done that, there’s been good points and bad points, but overall, it’s been average, if a little frustrating at times.

“Players’ contracts are up and some have to be renegotiated and some are maybe finished at the club.

“That happens, people move on.

“And for me, to make this team my own, people have to come in and this will be a busy period.”

Pools were valiant losers at Charlton at the weekend, Peter Hartley and Gary Liddle on target in a narrow defeat.

Neil Austin swung over a corner from the left and Hartley got the better of his minder to hook home on 31 minutes.

However, the champions arose from their slumber to serve up a three-goal blitz.

The first, on 70 minutes, saw Danny Hollands produce an action replay of Hartley’s earlier effort.

Just moments later, from another corner, Danny Haynes was afforded the freedom of the six-yard area to head a second and Yann Kermogant then dispatched a late contender for most spectacular fluke of the season, volleying into the far corner when a cross was his intention.

There was still time for Liddle to hammer a consolation into the top corner from 20 yards.

For the scorer, though, the blast could have greater consequence, a reminder to Cooper, perhaps, of his worth?

Liddle is one of two who appeared at The Valley who are out of contract this summer – Paul Murray being the other.

“We’ll sit down today and see what is happening with certain players,” Cooper explained.

“But I know we need four or five to make this a strong team.

“We’re very strong defensively, but we need to be more dynamic in attack.

“We need someone through the middle, a creative midfielder and a centre-forward.

“The list gets longer because you can’t always get the ones you want but this is the exciting time for me to make my mark on the team.”

Charlton: Hamer, Solly, Taylor, Morrison, Wiggins, Wagstaff (Pritchard 65), Stephens, Hollands, Jackson (Haynes 30), Wright-Phillips (Euell 83), Kermorgant. Subs Not Used: Sullivan, Cort. Goals: Hollands 70, Haynes 78, Kermorgant 81.

Hartlepool: Flinders, Austin, Baldwin, Hartley, Humphreys (James 73), Murray (Poole 82), Liddle, Sweeney, Monkhouse, Noble, Holden. Subs Not Used: Rafferty, Collins, Boyd. Goals: Hartley 31, Liddle 86.

Att: 26, 749 Ref: Iain Williamson (Berkshire).