Harrogate Town's Luke Armstong would have scored at least as many goals for Hartlepool United, insists Dave Challinor
Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor has had plenty to say about Harrogate Town striker Luke Armstong in the build-up to Saturday's clash between the two sides.
The Sulphurites' leading marksman spent an extremely productive spell on loan at Victoria Park last season, netting 15 goals including one in Pools' National League play-off final triumph over Torquay United.
Having helped the County Durham outfit to promotion to League Two, the 25-year-old striker then joined Harrogate on a permanent deal from Salford City, becoming an instant hit at Wetherby Road.
Armstrong has bagged eight goals in his first 13 appearances for Town, but Challinor is confident that he would have been just as prolific had he ended up staying with Pools.
“Luke was great [for us]. I’m sure he’ll get a brilliant ovation,” the United boss told the Hartlepool Mail.
“People will be a little bit disappointed that he's not still with us, but that will be more because we knew he could score the goals he's already scored for Harrogate this year for us.
“If he’d have been in our squad he’d have at least had the goals he's got now. The challenge for us now is to make sure that we can stop that."
Challinor has admitted that Pools were never really in a position to try and persuade Armstrong to make his stay with them permanent due to them not knowing which division they would be playing in this season until after the National League play-off final, which did not take place until June 20.
He also went on to state that he believes that Harrogate would have had to pay Salford a sizeable chunk of cash to secure his services.
“We probably weren’t that close to keeping him in all honesty,” the ex-AFC Fylde chief admitted.
“I don’t know in too much detail how far along the deal was to go to Harrogate. I’d be lying if I said I knew for certain that it was done before the season was finished but there’s a good chance that lots of dialogue had taken place between Harrogate and Salford because ultimately Harrogate had to pay a significant fee for him.
“Whether we could have got that deal done is debatable, but we didn't really get the opportunity to get the deal done because things were already in place. But that happens, I totally get it from both sides.”
He added: “From our perspective to be in with a chance to get Luke back we knew we had to be in the Football League, but it hasn’t worked out.
“He wanted to be back at home. He is a home bird and wants to be around his family. Even just down the road at Salford he really struggled.
“So he is back at home, he’s enjoying his football, he's playing and ultimately scoring and I’m sure that’s something he’ll continue to do, but hopefully not this weekend.”