INTERIM boss Ben Strevens has thrown his hat into the ring to succeed Andy Hessenthaler as Eastleigh manager.

The Spitfires have thrived on a spirit of togetherness in recent weeks and Strevens believes continuity, on and off the pitch, is the best way forward for the fast-improving National League club.

The 38-year-old former Barnet and Wycombe midfielder was placed in temporary charge, along with goalkeeping coach Ross Flitney, following Hessenthaler’s surprise departure to Dover Athletic last weekend.

As assistant manager, Strevens has helped oversee a dazzling run of four straight wins and six games undefeated.

It has hoisted the tenth-placed Spitfires to within three points of the play-off zone ahead of Saturday's Hampshire derby at home to Aldershot Town (3pm).

Hessenthaler’s permanent successor will become Eastleigh’s sixth manager since the start of 2016/17 and, having finally found some stability after two turbulent years, the last thing the Stoneham Lane club needs is yet more upheaval.

Strevens believes that, having served his apprenticeship as assistant/coach, he is the man best placed to keep the feel-good factor going.

He said: “I spoke to Kenny (Amor, chief executive) after the dust had settled on Monday and told him I wanted the job.

“I had the opportunity of an interview when Toddy (Chris Todd) went, but I didn’t feel I’d been around long enough then to put myself forward.

“This time it’s different. I’ve learned loads working with Hess and before that with Richard Hill and Martin Allen.

“Hess put trust in me to do the analysis on the opposition and we did about 50-50 on the training pitch. That experience has made my life easier this week because it hasn’t really felt any different.

“I’ve got good connections with the club, from the kitman and groundsman all the way through.

"And most importantly, the boys want me to go for the job.

“I’ve spoken to them as a group and as individuals and they want it to carry on as it’s been.

“The proof now is how they go out and perform.

"It won’t all hinge on the result against Aldershot, but the directors and paying customers will want to see if the lads are going to go out and perform and try their hardest.”

Like so many at the Silverlake Stadium, Strevens was sorry to see Hessenthaler go.

“He spoke to Dover on Sunday and we all hoped that by Monday he would decide to stay,” he said.

“But he lives down that way and the Dover job was too good to turn down.

“I’m gutted, the club’s gutted and the boys are gutted, but we also respect and understand that he had to do what’s best for him and his family.

“I learned so much from Hess and I thank him for putting so much trust in me.

“I’m grateful that I had the chance to work with him and hopefully I’ll do so again sometime in the future.”

Strevens does not want to disrupt the harmony at Eastleigh by bringing in new faces.

The Spitfires are two men down with Jack Payne back with his parent club Ebbsfleet and fellow loanee George Dowling likely to return to Bristol City after having an operation on his hand.

Payne came in when Eastleigh were struggling with injuries but, with a near full-strength squad now available, Strevens is happy to stick with what he’s got.

“I’ve spoken to the boys and, unless we get injuries, we don’t need anyone else,” he said.

“I’ve talked about not changing the manager and I feel the same about the players. I’m really happy with the squad we’ve got.

"The boys are doing great and I want to keep them all together. There’s no immediate concern about anyone wanting to leave.”

Midfielder Oscar Gobern (tight hamstring) is a doubt to face Aldershot  as is right-back Josh Hare who has missed training with a sore big toe.

“Josh wasn’t himself second half last week because he was in pain,” said Strevens. “Fingers crossed he’ll be OK. I hope so – he’s been one of our best players.”

Joey Jones has returned to training and hopes to be involved against a Shots side sitting 18th, six points behind the Spitfires.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for (Aldershot boss) Gary Waddock. I played for him at Wycombe. He’s in the top three managers I’ve played for,” said Strevens.

“It’ll be tough, but with the results and the way the boys are playing, we should be really confident.”