Ambitious Harrison flattered by Hartlepool link

The New Saints manager Craig Harrison says he is “flattered” by reported interest from Hartlepool United, and admits his long-term future may lie away from Park Hall.

Harrison is currently preparing his side for their JD Welsh Cup final against Bala Town on Sunday, with reports this week linking the former Middlesbrough man with a move to the League Two strugglers following the departure of Dave Jones.

The 39-year-old guided TNS to their sixth-consecutive Welsh Premier League title this season, picking up a Welsh League Cup and a world record of 27 straight wins in the process.

Having previously been linked with Gateshead and Wrexham, a move to Victoria Park could prove an irresistible challenge for Harrison, who admits his ambitions as a manager may well cause him to move on.

He said: “I’ve already told Mike Harris [the chairman] that I want to be managing as high as I can, wherever that may be. I’d like to test myself against the best.

“Obviously there’s a geographical link [with Hartlepool] as I’m from that region originally. But you have to be doing a decent job in the job you’re already in to be linked with another team, so it’s great and I’m flattered.

“There’s no doubt that at some point I want to manage as high up as I can, but I don’t know when that will be.

“If it was the right opportunity, I would be interested. Whether that comes tomorrow, in the summer, or in two or five years.

“There’s no timescale or geographical limitations. I’d be happy to travel and go somewhere else whether it’s in the UK or abroad.”

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Harrison is not the only man in the frame for the job at Hartlepool, with fellow Boro alumnus and current interim boss Matthew Bates installed as the bookies’ early favourite, while former Grimsby Town boss Marcus Bignot is also believed to be in the running.

But despite the speculation surrounding his future, Harrison insists he is focused on ensuring TNS earn an unprecedented third consecutive domestic treble with victory this weekend, adding that plans are already in place for next season.

“It [rumours] is just part and parcel of football and it’s something that I can’t control. No one can control it. That’s just the way it is. I don’t think it will be a negative [for Sunday].

“The plans never stop. We always know what we need and where we need to strengthen or have something different.

“I try to strengthen in every transfer window to make sure the competition for places is as strong as possible and that will be no different in the summer. There will be players coming in, and they’ll all be players who can strengthen the squad.”

Image Credit: Brian Jones/tnsfootball1

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