‘Hopefully the first of many’ – Dave Challinor praises Joe Grey following first Hartlepool United goal
In an otherwise disjointed pre-season, Joe Grey has proven to be something of a bright spark for Hartlepool United.
The 17-year-old agreed his first professional deal with the club in the summer with no real expectation placed upon him ahead of the 2020-21 National League season.
But with Pools set to open their campaign against Aldershot Town at Victoria Park this weekend, Grey has thrust himself into the first-team picture following an encouraging pre-season campaign.
The teenager grabbed a goal and an assist in Hartlepool’s 4-1 win in their final friendly match at Gateshead over the weekend – providing manager Dave Challinor with plenty of ‘food for thought’ ahead of the season opener.
“When you’re a young player, regardless of whether you think you’re going to be in the squad or not, for him, two or three months back, he probably wouldn’t have envisaged he’d be near our first team at 17,” Challinor told The Mail.
“For him to come in and warrant a place in the first team line-up and get a goal is not only a big relief for him but he deserves it as well because he’s been great for us.
“We need competition, especially in attacking areas and he’s given us plenty of food for thought going into the new season.”
Grey is arguably behind more experienced forwards like Mason Bloomfield, David Parkhouse and Rhys Oates in the pecking order.
But Challinor has backed the youngster to kick on after bagging his first senior goal for the club.
“Sweens [first team coach, Antony Sweeney] had a bit of a joke with Joe that he didn’t know whether he could score but he gets himself in good areas and finally got his reward so that will do him the world of good,” added the Pools boss.
“Hopefully that will be the first of many for him here.”
While Pools' National League season is set to start behind closed doors on Saturday, October 3, uncertainty remains over the league securing Government funding to help subsidise clubs’ substantial losses from playing matches without fans present.
The National League are aiming to receive confirmation of a support package ahead of the season opener but have told clubs that they will have to ‘review and reconsider their stance should this not occur.