HARTLEPOOL United manager Dave Challinor says automatic promotion from the National League looks to be out of reach for them this season.

Two damaging defeats to Bromley and Maidenhead United in the last week have left them eight points behind league leaders Sutton United.

The two losses ended a 16 match unbeaten run in the league and a 13 match unbeaten run at Victoria Park.

With three games to go, including this weekend's trip to Aldershot Town, Challinor accepts that he'll still need to rely on few favours to finish in the top three, which would ensure one less game in the play-offs.

"Before the Bromley game, it was all about what we did. Because of our last two results, we're now at a point where we need help.

While Pools head to Surrey this weekend, 2nd placed Torquay United will travel to 3rd placed Stockport County for a lunchtime kick off on Sunday at Edgeley Park.

"Probably with the way it sits now, after taking care of our stuff, we're hoping that Torquay United beat Stockport to give ourselves the chance of getting third spot.

"The maximum amount of points we can get now is 79, the reality is that's never going to be enough to finish in the top two, so from our perspective it's looking like 3rd or 4th.

"The best case scenario is that we win all of our games and Torquay beat Stockport and do us a favour.

"Beyond that, for us it's about the next game and bouncing back from the previous two results we've had and get back to winning ways."

This is the first season out of four in the National League, since their relegation from League Two in the 2016/17 season, where Pools have mounted a serious promotion push.

Mistakes during the Maidenhead United defeat last weekend proved to be costly and Challinor is adamant the fans won't see a repeat scenario from the game.

"I think I can quite safely say I don't think we'll make those mistakes, or the magnitude of those mistakes in a single game, ever again.

"People know they've made a mistake. What you've got to do is make their mistakes make you better and make affect your career moving forward.

"Those were mistakes that they've probably not made since they were playing junior football.

"They didn't need highlighting. It was more that we spoke about it after the game and spoken about it over the last couple of days.

"We've gone back to something that we've not had the opportunity to do by looking at our defensive stuff in terms of covering positions and working as a unit.

"Revisiting that is something, from a managing or a coaching perspective, we've not done for a little while. That highlights the fact that you need to keep on top of things.

"I think mistakes led to other mistakes and that's the one thing you have to deal with.

"As a defender, you're always going to make mistakes but what you hope is that they don't result in goals.

"If they do, you've got to be brave enough to be able to forget about them, move on and make sure they don't affect he rest of your game. I think it did that with us.

"What you have to do is be mentally strong enough to accept that, try and learn from it as best as possible in relation to what you do next time."

Top scorer Luke Armstrong will be available for their trip to the EBB Stadium.

The Pools boss confirmed he'll continue to train and build up fitness after missing the defeat to Maidenhead United.

Armstrong is now joint top scorer alongside Rhys Oates with 12 goals.

Ahead of their trip to 15th placed Aldershot, Challinor is giving the players a day off tomorrow before heading down to Surrey on Friday.

"When we travel away on a Friday, we tend to change the week.

"Train on Wednesday, we'll have the Thursday off and then train and travel on the Friday. It gives the players a longer break.

"We'll do that over the next couple of weeks. Travel down to Aldershot on the Friday and similar with Sutton the following week.

"We'll train on the way down and hopefully, we'll go there and pick up three points so we can give ourselves a shot at finishing in that third spot."