GRAEME LEE is determined to ‘hit the ground running’ when his reign as Hartlepool United manager begins with an FA Cup second-round trip to Lincoln City this afternoon.

Lee was appointed Pools boss earlier this week, with Michael Nelson as his assistant, and has left his previous position as head of Middlesbrough Under-23s in order to take over at Victoria Park.

He could hardly have wished for a tougher start, with Pools heading to Sincil Bank to take on a Lincoln side currently sitting in 18th position in League One.

After that, he will preside over his first home game when Rochdale visit the Vic in League Two on Wednesday night, and while he is still getting his feet under the table, he is keen to make a positive impact from the off.

“There’s momentum in the club, they’re on the up, and we want to keep pushing forward,” said Lee, who took charge of his first training session on Thursday morning, hours after Antony Sweeney had presided over a Papa John’s Trophy win over Sheffield Wednesday.

“The last five league games we’ve lost (which needs to improve), but first and foremost, we’ve got a cup game with Lincoln. Then, we’ve got a big game on Wednesday night, and we just want to get some points on the board as quick as we can.

“There’s quality in the team. We’ve got a good month to focus and see what we can get out of them.”

Lee spent more than a decade on Middlesbrough’s coaching staff, and admits it was a wrench to leave Rockliffe Park.

However, after making more than 250 senior appearances for Pools as a player, there is nowhere he would rather be as he embarks on the opening steps of his managerial career.

“I’ve had some great times at Middlesbrough, but they were fantastic (when he outlined his intention to leave),” said Lee. “They’ve always known this is what I wanted, so the decision was an easy one to be fair.

“I love this football club, and I always wanted to get into football management. Hartlepool was always my choice of where I wanted to go.

“I’ve wanted it for many years. The timing, with where I am myself, is perfect. Over the years, you question whether you’re ready for it, but I’m ready for it. It feels right.”

Luke Molyneux was forced off with a tight calf in last weekend’s defeat at Port Vale and missed the Trophy win at Sheffield Wednesday, but is expected to be in contention today. Full-back Jamie Sterry serves the final game of his three-match ban.