Nicky Featherstone has, at times, divided opinion among the Hartlepool United fanbase – but Pools boss Dave Challinor insists he has been an ‘integral’ player since he took charge.

Featherstone has been at Victoria Park since 2014 and can often come in for criticism from supporters given he has been at the club during a turbulent spell which saw Pools relegated from the Football League for the first time in its history and then fail to win promotion from the National League in the first two seasons in the fifth tier.

But Challinor believes the experienced midfielder has played a key part since he took charge at The Vic and has lifted the lid on the work he does on the training ground during the week – especially on a Tuesday when the sessions laid on for the Pools squad are deemed particularly tough.

Challinor wants his team to play an intense pressing game and he says Featherstone has very much bought into that in training.

Challinor said: “Feaths has probably come through the criticism over the course of the time he’s been here, and this is me speaking as someone who’s not been here very long and come out of the other side and it’s probably water of a duck’s back to him.”

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