Dave Challinor on Hartlepool United squad plans, contract talks and why there's no time to lose

There is no time to lose at Hartlepool United with Dave Challinor & Co fully focused on building a squad capable of competing in League Two.

By Richard Mennear
Monday, 28th June 2021, 6:00 am

Pools won promotion back to the Football League last Sunday thanks to a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win over Torquay United in the National League play-off final but this is a summer like no other with the squad back in training in 10 days or so.

The new League Two season starts August 7 with Crawley Town heading to The Vic.

Challinor and chairman Raj Singh have no time to waste when it comes to building their squad ahead of the new campaign with a high turnover of players expected again at The Vic.

The Hartlepool United players celebrate.

The Pools boss does, however, hope to keep hold of the bulk of the squad.

Challinor said: “Primarily our sole focus has to be getting the squad together.

"Without sounding too dramatic, if we had a squad together but had no pre-season friendlies, I’d deal with that.

"We won’t be having many pre-season friendlies if we don’t have a squad.

"It’s different because players would usually have a bit of time, that won’t happen.

"As best as you can, face to face, sitting down to negotiate a deal and if we can’t negotiate a deal then and there then we’ll go our separate ways and move on because we haven’t got the time.

"As much as we want to give people time to think about what’s there, they’ll want their futures decided as quickly as possible and we’ll need to know where we stand as quickly as possible.

"If that’s not the case and in some instances it won’t be.

"There will be lads we want to keep who might have offers from elsewhere or their expectations will be far above where we are in terms of our budget and where they are in terms of what we should be offering them.

"Hopefully we can keep as many of them together as we can.”

Meanwhile, club captain Ryan Donaldson has been reflecting on the penalty shoot-out win and how it compared to him scoring the winner in a National League play-off final for Cambridge at Wembley against former club Gateshead seven years ago.

On-loan Middlesbrough goalkeeper Brad James the hero as he saved the penalty to send Pools back into the Football League.

Donaldson said: “This was better.

"The moment of scoring at Wembley was great but that moment when Brad [James] saves it and it hits the bar is just euphoric and to do it for this club as well, it’s the best moment of my career and it will stay the best moment of my career, I’m pretty sure about that.

"I don’t think it gets any better than that and I was the old man sat at the end of the game telling everyone that ‘it doesn’t get any better than this, I promise you, enjoy this because however long you play, you won’t experience another game like that so enjoy it.’

"The whole day was brilliant and we certainly enjoyed it.”

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