Hastings 'won't be anywhere near full strength' for FA Cup tie
Boss Chris Agutter says Hastings will be well under-strength for tomorrow’s FA Cup season opener.
United have 11 players on the injured list with the first Isthmian League game just eight days away.
And although Agutter says the FA Cup is important to the club, he won’t risk aggravating any injuries by asking players to appear against Herne Bay tomorrow if they are suffering from niggles.
The most serious injury among those being dealt with is new signing Lloyd Dawes’ medial knee ligament problem, which is likely to keep him out for around a month.
The others are hamstring, groin and quad injuries which Agutter says may have been caused by players throwing themselves back into training after the long lay-off.
It gives him plenty of selection food for thought for tomorrow’s FA Cup game, which will be watched by a sell-out crowd at The Pilot Field.
“It’s been nice to prepare for a competitive game of football – it’s been a long time,” Agutter said.
“We have a group of players who thrive on the competitive element of the game. They’re pretty excited about getting the ‘proper’ season started.
“We are not going to win the FA Cup and while it’s nice to have a run in it, it won’t define what we do. The league is obviously our priority.
“There are players I could rush back for this game but I don’t want to compromise the team that’s available for the first league game against Cray Valley next week.
“It means we won’t be anywhere near full strength this week –but we have a very good squad and we’re fortunate we have a very good academy we can dive into.”
In fact Agutter said two of the standout performers of pre-season had been two of the younger crop – attacker Tom Chalmers, who is 17, and central midfielder Benn Ward, just 16.
Agutter said Chalmers was probably the first name on his teamsheet at present and pledged that young players who forced their way into his plans would get a run in the side, not just a token appearance.
He believes Cup opponents Herne Bay will be strong. “We’ve had them watched three times and they were very good last year. I expect them to compete for promotion.”
Fans cannot get in tomorrow without a pre-purchased ticket.