HARTLEPOOL UNITED face the prospect of some of their players refusing to play for the club again.

Saturday’s home defeat to Dover was tainted by a racist incident after the visitors took a first-half lead.

While abuse was hurled in the direction of the Dover players who celebrated in front of the home support in the Town End, the incident also led to a number of Pools players getting involved.

Midfielder Gus Mafuta and striker Nicke Kabamba were both prominent and animated in pointing out one individual at the front of the terracing, who strode along to the corner where he was flanked by Mafuta who was dragged away by team-mates.

At the final whistle, both Mafuta and defender Peter Kioso took their shirts off before leaving the pitch for the dressing rooms.

But the spat continued on Saturday evening on social media, with Kioso pointing out that someone was critical of Pools black players for getting involved in the situation. He was defended by many for his actions and words.

A number of Pools players tweeted their support for the both sets of players, while rounding on those who made the racist comments.

Pools take on Chesterfield at Victoria Park tomorrow evening, with Hignett admitting all focus will be on the game. And he is confident his players will react in a positive manner.

“We will regroup, we have to and that’s part of football,’’ he said. “We have to go again and we will talk about it in a meeting. We will go through things and make sure everyone is in the right frame of mind.

“Picking a team won’t be a problem. I’ve loads of players who have a case to play and after the last two performances there’s no argument if they are left out.

“If it’s about bringing players in who are chomping at the bit to start then that’s what I will do. As a squad we have to be together, regroup and forget about what’s gone on. We can’t affect that now.

“We will go through the right channels and put our point across about what has gone on, but this game has nothing to do with Tuesday.

“We enter with a clear frame of mind.’’

Visiting boss Andy Hessenthaler revealed afterwards that he was willing to take his players off the pitch and abandon the game – something Pools manager was willing to go along with.

Hessenthaler said: “It’s a sad day for football.

“At half-time we were calm. I spoke to Craig and at one stage I wanted to come off the pitch – and Craig agreed with me.

“He was saying the same, we backed each other up, but the players wanted to carry on and credit to them.

“It’s a tough one for the referee – how tough for him. A crazy day all around. I’ve not been lucky here in recent years, but I’ll take that one.

“They wanted to carry on. We spoke and their players wanted to carry on too. I didn’t like what was going on, I felt it in my stomach.

“I said look if you want to come off, let’s come off, but they wanted to carry on – although we were winning 1-0 at the time.’’

Hignett added: “If we find out anything happened then they will be dealt with – we will deal with it strong. We are a very inclusive club and we deal with it if we have to.

“I asked Gus (Mafuta) if he was OK and he assured me he was and that was that really.

“I said to Andy ‘If that’s what you feel then I’m behind you’ and he wanted to get on with the game.

“If that’s proved we will deal with it in the strongest possible way we can, we have to identify everyone involved and if it’s proved then we have to sort them out.

“This club isn’t like that. We are an inclusive club. We have black players. We have a black owner. We are a good family club and if anyone has darkened our club they will be dealt with.’’