DAVE CHALLINOR is the clear front-runner to be appointed the next manager of Hartlepool United.

Sacked by AFC Fylde amid an unflattering start to the season, the 44-year-old is available and is keen on a swift return to management. Pools have interviewed and spoken to Challinor and it is understood that chairman Raj Singh and chief executive Mark Maguire were impressed.

It is understood that Challinor intends to watch Pools at Notts County on Saturday.

Antony Sweeney remains in caretaker control at Victoria Park and takes the side to Meadow Lane seeking a fourth-successive victory.

He said yesterday morning at the club’s training ground: “Results mean the club doesn’t have to make a knee-jerk reaction. We have changed managers too often so if there’s the possibility of taking time and reaching the right conclusion then we take that.

“If we had lost these three games then I’m sure someone else would be sat there now – but the wins have given the club time to decide.’’

Pools are at home to Solihull Moors on Tuesday evening and, even if Challanor is appointed before the game, Sweeney will have the players ready for the challenge presented.

He admitted: “All I can do is work on the basis that I will be in charge for Tuesday. If it changes, then fine, but I don’t want to anticipate something happening and then not being prepared. We will prepare as best we can for Notts County and then start to prepare for Solihull – if it changes then so be it.’’

Sweeney has impressed everyone at the club in the manner he has taken to the position, assisted by Ian McGuckin and Ross Turnbull. Chairman Singh has spoke highly of the club’s former midfielder for the way he has led the squad.

And the club’s former midfielder admitted: “I’ve enjoyed myself in the role. I’ve spent most of my career at the club, it’s been good to me and I’d like to think I’ve repaid it too. I live in the town, know the club and spent a lot of my playing career here, started coaching here and I hope that it continues.’’

He added: “The week has been good and every day becomes a little more comfortable. Setting up training sessions we can structure it so we know between me, Gucky and Ross who will lead sessions.

“Team selection and how we go about it, how we announce it, how we tell the players who are going to be disappointed, that’s falling into place and we are all feeling OK at this moment in time.’’

Challinor could be watching Pools on Saturday without top scorer Gime Toure in the side.

The six-goal attacker will be given chance to be passed fit to face Notts County on Saturday, but he is a big doubt.

“Gime has had a minor hand operation on Wednesday and we have to wait and see how it settles – a fall and he could suffer permanent damage,’’ said Sweeney.

He added: “Myles Anderson is back in full training, Luke Williams has had no issues. He has been in full training and starts to come into contention.’’