HARTLEPOOL United are pondering a loan move for Sunderland striker Ryan Noble, who returned this week from a spell at Derby County.
Pools manager Neale Cooper spoke at the start of the month about his desperate need to find a natural goalscorer and that opinion has not changed in the wake of his side drawing a blank in their last two games.
Cooper believes the one player his side is missing is a prolific striker and Noble – who certainly fits that bill at youth and Reserve level at Sunderland – would fit the bill.
Not only that, but the 20-year-old is desperate to get a loan club ready to play him in his preferred out-and-out striker’s role, after a frustrating time at Pride Park.
Noble played just twice in his season-long loan at the Championship club – his time on the pitch amounting to little over 90 minutes – and in one of those games he was deployed on the right of a five-man midfield.
The loan spell was ended by mutual consent, with Derby having players returning from injury and Noble itching for a club which will play him in the position where he has shone so far.
Hartlepool are aware of his position and are mulling over a move for him in the next few days, but Martin O’Neill says he will let Noble’s feet touch the ground first before sending him straight back out.
“To be fair, both Ryan Noble and Trevor Carson have just got back this week and I haven’t really had the chance to talk to them just yet,” said the Sunderland manager.
“I’ll let them catch their breath and they’ll we’ll sit down and talk about where they might go.”
Cooper will hope to get a loan striker in sooner rather than later.
He said after the Preston defeat: “I said in the changing room that if you can’t kill teams off then we need to maybe look at players to come in.
“We need someone to put the ball in the back of the net – that’s two blanks now and we’ll have another look.”
Sunderland-born Noble insists he leaves Pride Park with no hard feelings.
“I have enjoyed my time at Derby,” he said. “They are a great club and the boss, Nigel Clough, has been excellent with me.”
“With other players now coming back into the picture, it looks better that I move on.
“I am now back to full fitness and just want to be playing football.”
Clough said: “We had a chat with Ryan on Monday and with Theo Robinson, Nathan Tyson and Steven Davies now edging towards full fitness after injury, we couldn’t promise him a regular start.
“He has been great to have around the place and we’re as frustrated as him that his chances were limited during the month.
“Had he been given permission he’d have played in the FA Cup against Stoke City and there was a good chance he’d have started against Forest too when it got called off because of the snow.
“Ryan has been really unlucky and he goes back to Sunderland with our very best wishes. We’d like to thank Martin O’Neill for allowing him to spend some time with us.”
H Goalkeeper Trevor Carson, meanwhile, is back at Sunderland after the end of his month-long loan with Hull City, where he failed to make a single appearance.
Meanwhile, 18-year-old centre-half Louis Laing has extended his loan spell with League One Wycombe until the end of the season and striker Jordan Cook has extended his stay at Carlisle United until March 10.