Striker Steve Howard leaves Hartlepool United

HIS FINAL WORD: Steve Howard in action against Oxford United. Picture by FRANK REID
HIS FINAL WORD: Steve Howard in action against Oxford United. Picture by FRANK REID

STEVE Howard’s second spell at Hartlepool United is over after club and player agreed to part company.

The striker had been out of the Pools first-team picture since his controversial sending off in the dying seconds of the home defeat to Oxford United on September 28.

His three-match ban coincided with the start of Pools’ improved form and after returning from suspension he was unable to break back into the mach-day 18.

Given he is understood to be one of the highest wage-earners at Victoria Park, Pools boss Colin Cooper and the club were keen to free up some money to spend for possible new signings.

A HUFC statement on the club’s website said: “As the club continues to find ways to reduce its overhead costs, we can announce that a mutual agreement has been reached with striker Steve Howard for him to leave the Club.

“Steve, whose contract was due to expire at the end of the season and who has been unable to secure a first-team place in recent months, has agreed a financial settlement which is to the benefit of the club to reduce its costs and acceptable to him.

“Such savings to the club are vital to ensure that we adhere to the Football League salary Ccapping requirements and will also allow flexibility for bringing in loan players should they be needed.”

Howard also spoke to where he wished Pools well.

“I would like to thank everyone at the club for their help and understanding,” he said.

“Everything has been done very amicably on both sides and hopefully I will get back to the Vic to watch some games in the future.

“Obviously I wish all the players and staff well for the rest of the season, I really hope they can go on and have a successful campaign.”

Howard first played for Pools in the mid to late 90s, scoring 27 times in 142 appearances.

His career took off after a move to Northampton Town and he went on to enjoy outstanding times at Luton Town, Derby Country and Leicester City.

Howard re-joined Pools in the summer of 2012, but his return coincided with the side struggling for form at the bottom of League One.

The veteran striker’s finest hour came at Bramall Lane during the festive period when he scored twice in the 3-2 win at leaders Sheffield United.

The steel city was clearly a favourite spot for Howard ended last season on loan at Sheffield Wednesday, scoring once in the win over Middlesbrough, though the forward won praise from boss Dave Jones for hos contribution to the club’s Championship survival.