HARTLEPOOL United boss Colin Cooper is believed to be keeping tabs on Sunderland striker Mikael Mandron, ahead of a possible loan move.
The Frenchman, who signed for the Black Cats in the summer of 2011, was on Pools’ radar last season as well but instead opted to sign on loan for Fleetwood Town in January.
The 19-year-old has been in impressive form in pre-season, averaging almost a goal per game and Gus Poyet included him in the recent Portugal tour.
Mandron qualifies internationally for England and Scotland and had been playing in his homeland with Bolougne.
Cooper, meanwhile, has praised the form of makeshift centre-half Neil Austin but admits he is still looking to boost his defensive options.
The 31-year-old has partnered new signing Matthew Bates in the majority of the first team’s pre-season friendly matches, with player-coach Sam Collins’ appearances restricted so far.
Cooper has been impressed with Austin’s form, especially in the friendly games against Sunderland and Middlesbrough - despite the end results of 3-0 and 2-0 respectively.
The Pools manager has “no problem” playing Austin centrally but with just days to go before the first League Two match at Stevenage, Cooper admits he is still on the lookout for reinforcements in central defence - with a loan recruit the more likely.
He has been pleased though with “versatile” Austin, who came to the club as a right-back but has since played left-back and now centre-half.
Austin played centrally away to Sheffield United in last season’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, helping Pools to a 1-0 victory with a commanding display.
The Yorkshireman went on to miss a large chunk of the campaign after suffering a toe injury at the start of February while making a block during the goalless draw with Scunthorpe United - but he has come back fully fit and in good form.
“Oz is a versatile player,” said Cooper.
“I think he would like to play there but I have also said if we get chance I’d like to bring a centre-half in.
“I have said to big Sam Collins that I still see him as a valuable asset but while he has been having a look at things from the outside, Oz is more than capable of playing centre-half.
“He and Matthew Bates look fine as a pair and I would have no bones about playing them together - I would have no problem playing all three of them, if I am honest.
“As it stands, Oz is enjoying that challenge but he offers us the versatility of being able to play anywhere across the back four.”
H Pools have praised supporters after announcing 3,000 season tickets have now been sold.
There is also good news for fans yet to buy one, with the deadline for reduced price tickets being extended until 4pm on Friday, August 15 - the day before the first home game at Victoria Park against Bury.
Up to then, the club is keeping prices at £200 for adults, £150 for students and senior citizens, just £100 for Under 19s and £60 for Under 13s.
Russ Green, the club’s chief executive, said: “3,000 is a brilliant figure for us to hit in this division and it shows once more the loyalty we have from the supporters and we want to repay that this season.”