Hartlepool United boss Graeme Lee has said the club were keen on keeping Stoke City loanee Eddy Jones, but his lack of game time means he will be returning to the Potters.

Jones, 20, joined Hartlepool United on loan in the summer, with the deal running through to this month.

Now, the Wales U21 international’s temporary deal with the League Two club has come to a close. However, it has now emerged that the Pools were keen on keeping Jones for the rest of the campaign, only for parent club Stoke City to opt against an extension.

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Hartlepool boss Graeme Lee has now moved to shed light on Stoke’s decision behind Jones’ return.

As quoted by The Northern Echo, Lee stated that game time is the primary reason behind his recall. He added that he could return to the Pools if he is given a starting role, but he will stay with Stoke as they weigh up other loan options until then.

Here’s what he had to say:

“Stoke have got their development pathways for their players. They send them on loan, they want them playing games, they want them developing.

“They just felt if he wasn’t going to be starting week in week out then they were going to bring him back and assess him.

“He went back, he trained with the first-team and they were very happy with him. They said to me if there is any change, if he’s going to start week in week out then he will come back if he’s needed but I think they’re looking to get him on a loan where he will get more game time.”

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Lee’s left-back options

David Ferguson, formerly of Sunderland and Blackpool, has been Hartlepool’s main option on the left-hand side this season.

Able to offer as both a left-back and left wing-back, Ferguson has started 19 League Two games so far, playing 28 times across all competitions. He has further cemented his starting spot under Lee, playing all 90 minutes in all but one league game since October 9th.

As for other options on the left-hand side of defence, Zaine Francis-Angol has played at left-back for much of his career to date. This season has seen him deployed as a centre-back more often than not though, and he has been an unused substitute in Hartlepool’s last five League Two games.