Dave Challinor explains striker selection following Burnley loanee Rob Harker's impressive Hartlepool United full debut

The decision to hand 19-year-old Rob Harker his full Hartlepool United debut looked to be something of a masterstroke from Dave Challinor, but the choice was effectively made for him.

Sunday, 9th February 2020, 4:16 pm
Updated Monday, 10th February 2020, 12:38 pm

After coming off the bench for his senior league debut at Barnet last weekend, the Burnley loanee started in place of Aidan Keena against Aldershot Town.

The teenager made an immediate impact as he set-up Luke Molyneux for the opening goal just five minutes into the 2-0 win.

“It was a great pick out for the goal,” Challinor admitted.

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Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Aldershot Town at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Saturday 8th February 2020. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

“If you’re a young player, I wasn’t a striker so I’m probably misjudged in my comments, but I would have been shooting in that position.

“On your home debut, in on your left foot, 12-yards from goal, I’d have been smashing it. I might have smashed it over but I’d have been smashing it!

“To show that composure and pick out Mols for a tap-in was massive and I think his performance deserved a goal.

“I think the opportunity he had in the second half would have been a brilliant goal. Ryan came in off the side and with a good piece of inter-play between the two of them to play in Gime and then Kitch overlaps with a great ball across and if that bulges the net then it’s a brilliant goal.

Rob Harker of Hartlepool United rues a missed chance during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Aldershot Town at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Saturday 8th February 2020. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

“For him, it would have been fitting to his overall performance – I thought he was great.”

The Hartlepool manager explained that the decision to start Harker over Keena was far more straightforward than people would think.

“We made the choice for him to start over Aidan which was a pretty easy one,” Challinor added.

“Aidan was brilliant on his home debut here but he had a bit of an issue earlier in the week that I mentioned.

“He trained later in the week but we decided not to risk him. I couldn’t be in a position where we’re losing players and risking things and I thought Rob’s physicality was great for us in terms of that loan striker role.

“So it’s good competition with two hopefully goalscorers in the focal point of the team.”