FUMING John Askey slammed the "ridiculous" National League schedule that he believes contributed to his key Hartlepool United midfielder Anthony Mancini suffering a serious injury.

The 22-year-old was forced off with a hamstring injury in the first half of Pools' 3-2 defeat to Chesterfield on Monday - which came less than 48 hours after Askey's side had beaten Fylde in Saturday evening's televised game.

Askey says it's unfair on the players to have to play two games in such quick succession, and believes Mancini's injury was a consequence of the quick turnaround.

The Pools boss is "gutted" for the Frenchman, who he fears faces a long spell on the sidelines.

"It's his hamstring and that's what is ridiculous about this league, playing Saturday and Monday and the pace that they play at at this level far outweighs what it used to be years ago, and players are susceptible, so when you haven't got a massive squad, those things happen," he said.

"It's ridiculous we had to play less than 48 hours after our last game and that's a consequence of that.

"It looked like a long one (spell on the sidelines). He's had a fantastic start to the season and you just hope it's sooner rather than later.

"I'm just gutted for him because when you're in the form he's in you just hope he can continue. He's not only a good footballer but a great lad as well and very infectious in the dressing room."

Askey already thought Pools were short in midfield, so will now be forced into trying to sign a replacement for Mancini.

He told BBC Tees: "It's an area we need to have a look at now, we have to try and get someone in quickly.

"It is what it is. You're always wanting more players in, but the club is where it is. We've made a fantastic start so there's no gripes from me.

"Before the game you'd have said the squad looks alright. We just have to dust ourselves down and go again."

Askey's men led 2-0 in the early stages against Chesterfield but the Spireites hit back and scored a last minute winner to end Hartlepool's four-match winning run.

The boss said: "We have to learn from it. Chesterfield are a good side, have been trying to get out of this league for a good few years and have spent a lot of money.

"It was a bit gutting to concede how we did. It's a hard one to take but we've been on a decent run. What we have to do now is pick ourselves up and go on another run.

"Hopefully one or two can learn from it and be better players for the experience."

Pools will be looking to get back to winning ways when they host Wealdstone on Saturday.