FORMERS Wanderers player Joe Bunney has signed for Hartlepool United on a short-term deal.

The 27-year-old had joined the National League side where manager Dave Challinor believes his "experience and flexibility" will help boost their play-off chances.

Bunney, who can play in a number of positions, joined the Whites on a free transfer from Northampton Town last September but, just a week later, suffered broken ribs and a broken collarbone following a crash on the M55.

He played just two games for Wanderers before he was released by the club in the summer. 

Bunney then returned as a free agent on trial after Ian Evatt took charge but was not offered another contract. 

He began his career with spells at Lancaster City, Kendal Town, Stockport County and Northwich Victoria where, then manager Lee Ashcroft, recommended him to former Whites boss Keith Hill at Rochdale.

It was there he was converted from a forward to a more defensive player and went on to play 160 times between 2013-18. He moved on to Northampton, playing 18 times for the Cobblers, and had loan spells at Blackpool and former club Rochdale before joining Bolton.

Since leaving, he has played for Matlock Town and has kept fit training with AFC Fylde.

"Delighted to sign Joe at what is a very busy period for ourselves," Challinor told the Hartlepool United club website. "His quality, experience and flexibility to play in various positions will be a big plus to the squad.

"In the sessions he’s been with us you can already see that he’ll fit in seamlessly."

Bunney took to social media to show his appreciation to the two non-league clubs that have helped him since leaving Wanderers.

He said: "Big thank you to Matlock Town and (manager) Paul Phillips for letting me get some game time minutes in my legs and AFC Fylde for continuing to let me train daily during a difficult period for everyone.

"All the best for the rest of the season no doubt both will be right up there."

Meanwhile, another former Bolton player, Rhys Bennett, is a wanted man at Carlisle United.

The centre back, who came up through the ranks at Wanderers, has impressed with the League Two club and manager Chris Beech wants the 29-year-old to remain until the end of the season.

The Bolton-born defender - who has signed a deal until January - has played five times for the Cumbrian outfit, scoring once.

"I want him to stay and I know he’s enjoying himself," Beech, who previously worked with Bennett at Rochdale, told the News and Star.

“He’s an excellent acquisition. As we grow and he grows he’ll only get better, and within that, I’m sure we’ll end up to that point, as we near January, to try and retain his services.

“He said to me when I first got the job here - and I know things change - that if he was going to play in League Two, he’ll come and play for me.

“That’s just because of our relationship we had at Rochdale.”