Alex Pike insists he is taking tonight’s Russell-Cotes Cup home showdown with Petersfield Town seriously as he looks set to make 11 changes to his Gosport Borough side.
The Borough boss saw his men held to a 1-1 draw by Eastbourne on Saturday as the visitors grabbed a last-gasp equaliser.
He also has this weekend’s important FA Cup trip to Willand Rovers to think about.
As a result, Pike is expected to give some of his fringe players an opportunity to impress with Lee Wort, Ashley Harris, Dan Woodward, Ben Gerring and Adam Wilde among those set to start tonight.
And the Gosport boss expects to see plenty of motivation from those who have had to wait patiently.
He said: ‘If any of my players believe this is a nothing game, they are very much mistaken.
‘They have a real opportunity to show me that they should be in the side.
‘Some of them want their chance – well, this is it.
‘It’s an important game for me and them. Plenty of them could do with 90 minutes but it’s been really difficult to make too many changes to the team.
‘I haven’t had many injuries and I’ve been pretty pleased with performances and results.
‘I won’t make changes for the sake of it. You want continuity if possible and that means some players have had to bide their time.’
Pike’s men could claim a place in the FA Cup first round proper with victory in Devon on Saturday and he admits that will play a part in his selection.
He said: ‘I’ve also got to bear in mind that I want to protect some players.
‘Of course, the FA Cup game is more important. But that does not mean we don’t care about this one.
‘I watched Petersfield last week and they have some good players.’
Petersfield are flying high at the top of the Wessex League and boss Ian Saunders admits he doesn’t have the luxury of rotating his squad.
He said: ‘Our club is facing a Conference South team.
‘It’s unlikely it will be their current first team but they are all players capable of playing at that level.
‘It’s a huge game for us but we don’t want a heavy thumping.
‘Nobody is expecting us to go to Gosport and even compete.’
It will be an odd situation for Matt Denham who has been turning out for Petersfield in recent weeks as he returns to his parent club to play against his regular Wessex League team-mates before going back to Petersfield.
Saunders said: ‘It’s a tough one for us because Matt has been doing exceptionally well but he is Gosport’s player.
‘It’s probably a difficult one for him as well, playing against players he has been playing alongside.
‘But Alex wants to see him playing for Gosport and I totally understand that.
‘We are just grateful that they have allowed us to have him.’