Calm Claridge can be Trophy key

22/10/2011 (SPORT)''Action from the match between Gosport Borough FC v Sholing on Saturday 22nd October 2011 at Privett Park.''Pictured is: Steve Claridge during the match.''Picture: Sarah Standing (113777-4258)

22/10/2011 (SPORT)''Action from the match between Gosport Borough FC v Sholing on Saturday 22nd October 2011 at Privett Park.''Pictured is: Steve Claridge during the match.''Picture: Sarah Standing (113777-4258)

Hawks boss Lee Bradbury

Early starts for Hawks and Moneys

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Gosport are hoping veteran striker Steve Claridge could return for their FA Trophy first round tie against Braintree Town at Privett Park (3pm).

Claridge has been sidelined by a rib injury but if he passes a late fitness test could play a part in Borough’s big day.

The 45-year-old’s experience will prove invaluable against the Blue Square Bet Premier team, who play three levels above the home side.

Although, Gosport manager Alex Pike believes there is enough nous in his side to deal with the occasion.

And he expects Borough to give a good account of themselves.

‘We should be able to go out and enjoy it with no pressure because on paper we have no right to win,’ said Pike.

‘Braintree play three leagues higher and have six England C internationals in their side.

‘It will be a good test for my players against quality opposition and will show how far we have come.

‘We have enough experience in our side not to be fazed by it and we certainly don’t intend to freeze on the day.

‘We have a style and gameplan that has served us well for the last 16 games and we will be sticking to it.

‘There is always a danger you can give the opposition too much respect and end up defending too deep and we will be wary of that.

‘If Steve (Claridge) is fit then he will undoubtedly make an important contribution.

‘He is very composed and brings an air of calm to the team.

‘Braintree won’t frighten him.’

The Privett Park outfit have already knocked out Blue Square Bet South Dorchester Town and harbour hopes of further glory against the Essex visitors.

Prolific goalscorer Justin Bennett returns up front after missing the Hampshire Senior Cup win over Christchurch in midweek.

James Ford also comes back from work commitments.

And Pike is hopeful Dan Wooden will be available after suffering from a groin strain and glandular fever.

‘If we can go out there, enjoy it and play with a smile on our faces then we will get the best from our players,’ said Pike.

‘Confidence is sky high among the players after knocking Dorchester out.

‘It was the only defeat the Blue Square Bet South side had in 10 games.

‘We have players in our team who have played at this level and that should prove helpful to our cause.’

Meanwhile, Shaun Gale is looking on the bright side after his Hawks were knocked out by Weymouth in the last round.

He will have his squad in training ahead of next week’s league visit to Tonbridge Angels.

‘For the first time in a long while I’m glad not to have a game because it gives us a chance to get some of our injured players back,’ added Gale.

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