Hartlepool United boost their forward options with Howard signing

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HARTLEPOOL United will today clinch the signing of Steve Howard – and his former boss Mike Newell believes his old club have landed a “proper” footballer and person.

Ex-Pools chief Newell, who managed Howard at Luton Town for three years, has likened the 36-year-old to Alan Shearer, and insists the striker will have a huge influence both on and off the pitch at Victoria Park.

“This is an excellent signing,” the 47-year-old said today.

“He’s a good, old fashioned centre-forward.

“I played with Alan Shearer and he’s in that exact same mould.

“He has the same strength and finishing power, but also the same character.

“They are both hard, North East lads – Steve is a real man’s man and someone I loved the company of away from football.

“You rely on that sort of character to run your dressing room.

“He’s just a proper person and a proper footballer and I think he’ll be a magnificent signing and I’m delighted for him and Pools.”

Howard, released by Leicester City this summer, will today complete the formalities of his return to the Vic and become Neale Cooper’s third signing of the summer.

The Durham-born star began his career at the Vic in 1995 and scored 32 times from 162 outings over three years before a £120,000 switch to Northampton.

From there he moved to Luton in 2001 and enjoyed five seasons – including two promotions – at Kenilworth Road.

After netting more than 100 goals to move third in the Hatters’ all-time scoring charts, it was Newell who sold Howard to Derby County for £1million.

The Scouser, who guided Pools to promotion in 2003 before his controversial departure, went on: “I have always said that Howie will score goals in whatever division he plays in.

“He’s a big powerful lad, yes, but he also has an eye for goal and will create as many as he scores.

“If he’d had a little bit more pace then I believe he could have played in the Premier League for a long time.

“But when I had him at Luton he was a dream to have in your team.

“You just couldn’t afford to take him off and, as a manager, you could rely on him and that’s exactly what you want.

“He plays a lot of games and is never injured.

“He knows how to look after himself on the pitch and he’ll also look after others – he’s the sort of guy you want on your side.

“So I wish him all the best at Pools and I think he will really make a difference for them this season.”