Marcus Dinanga has been set this challenge by Hartlepool boss Matthew Bates

Matthew Bates has challenged striker Marcus Dinanga to keep on improving as he targets more first-team involvement.

The 21-year-old joined Pools on loan from Burton Albion in the summer after some prolific spells in the lower leagues.

Marcus Dinanga has been set this challenge by Matthew Bates

Marcus Dinanga has been set this challenge by Matthew Bates

Dinanga netted 34 times for Matlock Town in 2016/17 before following that up with 25 strikes at AFC Telford in the National League North last season.

But he has struggled for game time at the Super 6 Stadium and is yet to make a first-team start for the club - although he has been involved as a substitute on occasion.

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While opportunities in Bates' side have proved somewhat elusive, Dinanga has continued to impress when called upon to play for the club's second string.

And having found the net in last night's Durham FA Challenge Cup win over Sunderland West End, Bates has challenged the frontman to 'knuckle down' and keep on improving if he wants some sustained first-team involvement.

“Marucs is training well and I was at the game, and he was running them ragged and working hard,” he said.

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“It’s not a nice game to play in, if you like, for someone on loan but he needs to get his head down, knuckle down and improve if he wants to get in the team.

“It’s important that he plays these games, and it’s important that all these lads show the right attitude and get what they need out of the game.”