COLIN Cooper insists Luke James remains part of his plans after the striker returned to training at Hartlepool United.
Over the past fortnight, the 19-year-old striker – who has been the subject of a rejected bid from Peterborough United – has handed in two transfer requests and missed three days of training.
But James is now back in the fold at Pools and is in contention for the trip to Cheltenham Town on Saturday.
James missed the 2-1 win at Wimbledon after not turning up for training but he was back at Maiden Castle on Tuesday following the Bank Holiday Monday break and has been in the rest of the week.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Cooper said as far as he is concerned the highly-rated forward is “part of the squad going forward”.
He also confirmed he has sat down and spoke with the want-a-way striker, who signed a new contract in the summer, on more than one occasion in the last few days.
Cooper said: “Luke is back in, he is training and, as far as I am concerned is part of the squad going forward.
“I have addressed it by having the conversation that I wanted to have had with him and I have had two or three in the last few days.
“He’s back and, as far as I am concerned we just crack on.”
Pools rejected what they called an “unacceptable” bid from League One Posh for last season’s 16-goal top scorer.
Peterborough, who this week signed Gateshead forward Marcus Maddison on a four-year contract, say they won’t be upping their bid.
But James’ future is still far from certain ahead of the summer transfer window closing on Monday.
Posh manager Darren Ferguson said: “We are no further forward.
“We have put our bid in and won’t be moving it and that is where we are at.
“They have rejected it and we won’t be upping our bid.
“We have a valuation we feel is fair and we put a bid to Hartlepool, which we felt is more than fair.
“But as I said many times they can reject it if they want.
“That is where we are at the moment.
“If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.
“We may move to another one or we may go with what we have got, we’ll wait and see,” added Ferguson, who was speaking to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.
Meanwhile, Cooper insists he is still looking to add new further loan signings to his Pools squad but said it can be difficult if parent clubs insist they play.
Cooper added: “I am still having conversations and have put feelers out to a lot of places to see if there are any players available that people feel would benefit from a loan spell at Hartlepool.
“What you will find is that a stipulation from a lot of clubs is if you take one of their players on loan they have to play.
“That is a bit harsh on players who have grafted their backsides off for you and got the three points on Saturday.
“As much as I would like to add to what we have got – because I still feel we are a bit light in numbers and strength in depth – you have to be sure that people coming in are going to be better and really have the impact to go straight into the team.
“That is the kind of people I am looking for.”