Dave Challinor defends Hartlepool United captain Ryan Donaldson and explains why he's one of the first names on his teamsheet

Dave Challinor has questioned the criticism directed at Hartlepool United captain Ryan Donaldson and explained why he’s one of the first names on his teamsheet.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 5:00 pm
Ryan Donaldson of Hartlepool United and Mark Kitching of Hartlepool United celebrating his team's first goal during the Vanarama National League match between Barnet and Hartlepool United at The Hive, Edgware on Saturday 1st February 2020. (Credit: Jacques Feeney | MI News)

Donaldson is one of only two players (the other being Nicky Featherstone) to have started every match since Challinor took charge as Pools manager back in November.

The 28-year-old is set to surpass 100 National League appearances for the club this season as he’s currently enjoying his most productive campaign to date with five goals and nine assists to his name.

Only Gime Toure (18) and Gavan Holohan (15) have been directly involved in more Hartlepool goals this season than Donaldson (14), yet the captain has still been the subject of scrutiny from some supporters.

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“People will criticise Ryan at times and the criticism for him from my point of view is that his ability to play in or do a good job in different positions probably goes against him at times,” explained Challinor.

“You can look at him and say his output isn’t this and he doesn’t do this or that and be really critical but in football, we tend to look at what players can’t do rather than what they can do.”

The decision to make the versatile midfielder captain has also been the source of some debate though the Pools boss fully expects Donaldson to be leading the team out in the 2020-21 season.

“People may say he’s the captain and expect more of him,” Challinor added.

“He probably isn’t a natural leader but that responsibility has been given to him and I see no reason why he shouldn’t be captain.

“We don’t have a dressing room full of real, old fashioned leaders, you have to lead by example.

“That’s what Ryan does, he gives everything he’s got for the football club and I’ve never had any reason to even question leaving him out.

“As far as I’m concerned, if his performances remain the same that will remain the case.”