Academy prospect Connor May is in the frame for a surprise full debut as Gosport Borough bid to cement their play-off position.
The 17-year-old was introduced as a 90th minute substitute in the weekend goalless draw against Oxford City.
And assistant manager Mick Catlin admits the home-grown product could be elevated to a starting spot for tonight’s trip to Bath City (7.45pm).
The attacking midfielder, who hails from Gosport, is highly-regarded at Privett Park and has forced his way into Alex Pike’s thoughts.
Borough are also boosted by the return of central defender Brett Poate following a calf injury, although Lee Wort (hamstring) is still missing.
Yet the emergence of May following a troubled past week dogged by financial concerns, represents a moment for the club to be encouraged by.
Catlin said: ‘From the players’ point of view, obviously not being paid is as bad as it gets so that issue was brought to a bit of a head.
‘But from a football point of view, we just keep doing what we are doing.
‘Connor is one of the Academy lads who came on and made his debut against Oxford and proves the system is working.
‘The quality of the Academy is going up every year so hopefully in the future if we can get the off-the-field problems sorted out we can save ourselves a bit of money by bringing a few of our own players through.
‘Connor has a good chance of starting tonight.
‘He is only 17 and has been playing for the under-21s as well, he is physically strong enough to play and looks good in training. It doesn’t really matter how old he is, if he is good enough we will stick him in and see what he can do.
‘He’s an attacking midfielder, a big strong lad. The physicality side of it is always an issue in our league, especially with young players coming through, but he is one of the bigger lads in our Academy and doesn’t have a problem with that.
‘Conor has a lot of ability and I can see him going a long way.’
Meanwhile, record goalscorer Justin Bennett has been linked with a switch to Sutton United.
But Catlin insists the experienced striker is staying.
He added: ‘The problem is when you don’t pay players they can wriggle out of their contracts.
‘Justin is the top-scorer in the league and is going to be wanted by most clubs in our division.
‘As far as we are concerned he is under contract and not going anywhere.
‘Until that changes he will stay where he is and will play tonight.
‘The players were yesterday paid some of what they are owed so we are gradually working our way through it.’
GOSPORT BOROUGH: Ashmore, Cuthbertson, Williams, King, Woodford, Pearce, Barker, Harding, Brice, Jerrard, Bennett, Wilde, May, Poate.