Matthew Bates has warned Josh Hawkes not to take his foot off the pedal, amid speculation linking him with a move.

Sunderland lead a lengthy list of clubs who are monitoring the progress of the 19-year-old, who has burst on the scene under Bates this season, as Pools fight tooth and nail to stay in the National League. The Black Cats have already made contact with Pools regarding the player, but their advances have been rebuffed in recent weeks for the midfielder, who still has a year left on his current deal.

Sunderland were understood to be keen on playing Hawkes in a behind-closed-doors trial game, but that was rejected by Pools. Championship rivals Middlesbrough and Leeds United are also keeping tabs on Hawkes, as well as Premier League Newcastle United, managed by Rafa Benitez. Bates is not shocked that any number of clubs have started to watch Pools that little bit more closely with Hawkes in such form. But he says the player must not let his standards drop as delivering at Victoria Park is what will get him a switch elsewhere – nothing else.

“He has done magnificently,” Bates said of Hawkes performances of late. “To come into a team and perform as well as he has when they are struggling says a lot about his character.

“There is a lot to come from him. He needs to keep working to improve and not take his foot off the pedal.”

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