Unsettled James back in training at Hartlepool United

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UNSETTLED striker Luke James has returned to training with Hartlepool United.

The highly-rated forward went AWOL after handing in a second transfer request at Pools following the 2-0 home defeat by Dagenham.

James didn’t show up for training on Thursday or Friday and missed the 2-1 League Two victory at Wimbledon on Saturday.

But the 19-year-old yesterday returned to training at Maiden Castle in Durham.

The squad had been given Bank Holiday Monday off but they were back in yesterday preparing for the trip to Cheltenham this Saturday.

It remains to be seen what future James has at the club after being strongly linked with a move to League One side Peterborough. Posh boss Darren Ferguson has already had a bid for the forward rejected – although it is understood to be some way shy of the £1million which has been reported.

Pools have described the offer as “unacceptable”.

Posh have also been heavily linked with moves for Gateshead forward Marcus Maddison and Inverness striker Billy McKay but sources say the League One club remain firmly interested in adding James to their squad.

Club officials at Pools wouldn’t comment on whether the striker would face disciplinary action for missing three days last week.

Manager Colin Cooper, meanwhile, says he was “delighted” to see Marlon Harewood score his first goal of the season in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Wimbledon in Sky Bet League Two.

“I still think there’s more from Marlon and I won’t stop asking him for more,” revealed Cooper. “You have to wind yourself up but Marlon is such a nice guy, and I mean that in the nicest possible sense. He is a good guy to have around.

“I was delighted for Marlon to get a goal and delighted with the reaction of the fans that came down to him and towards the team at the end of the game.”

Harewood, a former Nottingham Forest, West Ham United and Newcastle United striker, signed for Pools in January and has scored four goals in 24 appearances for the club.

The striker - who turned 35 on Bank Holiday Monday - was a free agent after being released by Bristol City.