ANTONY SWEENEY admits a bit of praise for his players can go a long way.

The caretaker Hartlepool United boss has led the players to three wins since being asked to stand in after the departure of Craig Hignett.

Chairman Raj Singh admitted at the weekend there was no immediate rush to appoint a permanent successor. The manner in which Sweeney has taken to the role has impressed everyone at Victoria Park and he is a contender for the post.

Dave Challinor, the former Fylde boss, has been interviewed for the position and Singh aims to decide by next week.

Until then, Sweeney and Ian McGuckin will again oversee training this week.

The club’s former midfielder was part of the successful Neale Cooper side of 2003-2005, the Scot a whirling dervish on the sideline during his spell in charge.

And, while Sweeney isn’t quite on that level just yet, he admits being energetic in the dug-out can be of benefit to all.

“I am animated on the sidelines, it’s probably two-fold: to get the message across to the players but there’s some nervous energy from myself as well,’’ he said.

“I’m trying to be involved in the game, not let it pass by. Players like a pat on the back sometimes – if it’s as simple as blocking a pass down the line then reward them, say well done.

“It’s an important part of it. I try and be positive with the players. I liked encouragement as a player, it’s about driving a way about it. It’s what I believe.’’

And he added: “The fans will play a massive part here. I’ve played here when they are on side, making a noise, behind the team and it’s a tough place to come. Too often recently over time it’s not been like that. I want to generate a performance to engage the crowd, then they engage the players and everyone benefits.’’

Nicke Kabamba scored twice against Barnet and he also netted in the win at Aldershot in Sweeney’s first game in control.

The striker is playing with confidence and Sweeney said: “Nicke took his goals well, worked really hard. His goal return hasn’t been what we wanted and what he wanted, but he brings so much to the team and I’m so pleased to get two goals for him and a match-winning performance.

“We want him in the six-yard box and in and around the six-yard box and his goals were really good and he could have had more.

“I asked the players one question before the game: where do we want to be this season. I think it showed we want to be at the top of the table.’’

He added: “It’s been pleasing, I said to the players was proud of the performance. The last two games, I’ve been critical but on Saturday they executed the game plan well.

“We got the goals at the right times and we executed the game plan very well. Looking back it became quite comfortable.

“It was a lot more front foot football and looked a threat going forward and looked more solid than we have done. I’ve said to the staff we are striving for perfection which is a bit wrong because we are a National League side.

“Even when they went down to ten men the balance between running them ragged and keeping possession was good.

“A lot of time and effort goes into it, not just what you do in sessions, but what you might come up against on a weekend to put into practice. I felt we had a really good week but that means nothing until the game and result comes, but it’s nice when it happens.

“Barnet still carried a threat with ten men – go too gung-ho and you can concede, then the momentum can change.

“I felt the players were really food in being patient and demoralising Barnet.’’