‘One last hurrah?’ – Dave Challinor admits uncertainty over Hartlepool United squad’s future ahead of National League play-off final against Torquay United
“Hopefully we can keep this group together, who knows if that will be the case.”
But Pools go into Sunday’s crucial match against Torquay United at Ashton Gate (2pm kick-off) aware that several players could be playing their final game for the club.
As it stands, only two players in contention to start the play-off final are confirmed to be contracted to Pools for the 2021-22 campaign.
Gavan Holohan and David Ferguson have one year remaining on their respective contracts while youngsters Joe Grey and Brad Young have also been confirmed as signed up by official club sources.
The club do have extension options on several other key players with Challinor hopeful rather than expectant of keeping Pools’ promotion challenging squad together.
“We’re on the cusp of something,” said the Pools boss. “It’s a massive opportunity for us on Sunday and it’s a really, really difficult game.
"Someone is going to be really, really disappointed. It’s a process of building the club back up and not so much raising expectation but dealing with it and lowering it to a certain degree.
"Recognising where the club is now not where it was 10 years ago because that doesn’t do anybody any favours. Then you try and rebuild optimism and rebuild belief and hope.
“Regardless of what happens, hopefully we’ve done that and will continue to do that. Hopefully we can keep this group together, who knows if that will be the case.
"But if it’s not then we’ve got one last hurrah and we couldn’t have a bigger hurrah if you like so hopefully it’s a special afternoon for Hartlepool fans.
"It’s a very special group and that’s not to say groups I’ve worked with previously haven’t been.
"It’s easy to say it’s a great group and most changing rooms, there aren’t many that are extremely bad eggs or people who aren’t good lads and good characters.
"There is a real togetherness about the group and even with the constraints we have using loan players, they’ve fitted in and been a massive part of what we do. Hopefully we can produce something special.”