DAVE Challinor was in exalted company last weekend. Invited to the North-West Football Writer’s Awards, the Hartlepool United boss admitted he was like a kid in a sweet shop at first.

Upon arrival, the former AFC Fylde chief was sat on a table alongside Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola.

A Liverpool fan, Challinor was presented with his own accolade for his achievements with Fylde last season in winning the FA Trophy and taking the club to Wembley in the National League play-off final.

But a piece of glassware is nothing compared to the first-hand insight he got close up to two of the best managers in the world.

Challinor smiled: “It was amazing. I said on stage when I got up that – as a Liverpool fan and a football fan – to be sat on the top table with other managers is great, but with the managers who others were in awe of.

“Myself, Graham Alexander, Ryan Lowe, Micky Mellon and those, to be sat on a table with Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola it was something you never think of.

“They were, I suppose, what you expect them to be and normal. As young managers and young coaches, you sort of hung on every word they said and there was a real good interaction between them. It was massively inspirational.

“At first, and it’s a strange one, you are at a football writer’s awards with lots and lots of people and the writers who are there see them week in, week out. We don’t so we have a different feeling and it was a bit ‘woahhhh’ to start with.

“You are almost saying ‘It’s Jurgen Klopp, what’s he doing here?’ and it is a bit like that at first. Kids at Christmas type thing, but once you had a few beers it becomes normal.

“They were brilliant in terms of pictures and speaking to people. It’s almost a once in a lifetime opportunity, so just to be in and around their company and to listen to them is a really good chance to network and talk football with some brilliant people.’

He added: “The Liverpool fan in me was there, but you just sit and watch and you get a lot from seeing how they act and how they are around each other.

“I suppose the charisma they have oozes into how they come across. They get up on stage with a bit of banter about each other. It was really good and anything you can pick up, advice, how they put themselves across is rewarding.’’

A number of awards in recognition of last season’s achievements were handed out, while the Champions League and Premier League trophies were also on display.

Challinor is already looking forward to the North-East FWA Awards at Ramside Hall.

He added: “Managers at North-West clubs were regonised, special awards for myself, Graham Alexander, Barry Lewtas - Liverpool’s Under-18s manager – and Nick Cushing of Man City Ladies. A lovely crystal decanter, pride of place on the mantlepiece, but I’m not at home! It was a really great evening and hopefully be there next year and I’ve already got an invite to the North-East Awards in February!’’

Maybe some of the duo’s attacking outlook rubbed off on Challinor and Pools as 48 hours later they thumped Chesterfield 5-1.

On Sunday they go to Exeter in the FA Cup, but they will be without right-back Peter Kioso, who was stretchered off after a clash of heads on Tuesday.

But the diagnosis on Wednesday wasn’t as bad as feared and Challinor said: “I hope he will be back for the next league game. Was he knocked out? No we don’t think so and if he’s not unconscious then he doesn’t have to sit out for two weeks. There’s a protocol to go through and once he’s symptom free in cross training, bike and run and there’s no reaction then he should be OK to go.

“It’s disappointing he misses out on Sunday, but I suppose the bigger picture is he’s back sooner than later.

“Sunday is a big one, but we quickly move on to Woking and hopefully he’s OK for that.’’

Myles Anderson has left Pools for Aldershot on loan, with Challinor set to see another depart too.

The centre-half has only played a matter of minutes this season and moved south this week on loan until January, with the deal likely to be extended if all parties are happy.

And Challinor, speaking at his press conference yesterday morning, is lining up another player out of the door.

“Hopefully, we get another one our today which will allow him to get minutes for us,’’ he said. “It’s about being able to look at them in a game environment, make decisions, get match fit and come back.

“Myles has moved on loan and he needs games. We are heavy in terms of the squad and have players not getting into the squad. Myles has played 34 minutes all season and been out injured.

“He’s had a concession and what we can’t do is carry players without a reserve game or games programme. We need players to get out and get minutes. This is a busy period, a lot of games in a short space of time, it will get him match fit and get him minutes and there will be more in that category.’’