Dave Challinor in race to bolster Hartlepool ranks ahead of EFL return

Hartlepool manager Dave Challinor celebrates (PA Wire)
15:56pm, Wed 23 Jun 2021
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Hartlepool boss Dave Challinor faces a race against time to rebuild his squad for life in the English Football League with only five players currently contracted for the new campaign.

Challinor’s side ended their four-year exile in dramatic fashion on Sunday afternoon when a penalty shoot-out victory over Torquay at Ashton Gate in the National League play-off final secured their return.

However, the celebrations were necessarily brief as the club sets about the task of preparing itself for League Two.

Challinor told BBC Radio Tees: “It has to sink in quickly, unfortunately. I’d love to be in a position where I was laid on a beach in the sun, iPad in hand being able to watch videos and pictures and read comments and, I suppose, bask in the glory.

“The stark reality is we are in a situation where we’re a Football League team with five contracted players and another 20 to find, so the task starts there.”

Challinor revealed Pools had drawn up two blueprints – one for League Two and one for a fifth season in the National League – and will now attempt to implement the former, although he admits they are already at a disadvantage.

He said: “The Football League teams that we’re going into a division with, the majority of them finished seven weeks ago, so they’re seven weeks ahead and some of the players that we may have been interested in have been snapped up and have signed elsewhere, which is quite understandable.

“The reality of it is the majority of teams have come back into training either today, or will certainly be in within the next seven days, whereas we’ve just finished.

“A week on Monday we’ll be back – and a week on Monday, we’re only probably five weeks from the start of the season, so it moves on really quickly.

“But we wouldn’t change it based on the emotions we went through on Sunday and the ultimate prize that we’ve received at the end of that.”

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