Hawks’ opening friendly a chance to impress

New Hawks signing Sam Page. Picture: Dave Haines
New Hawks signing Sam Page. Picture: Dave Haines
Andreas Robinson. Picture: Habibur Rahman

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New management team Stuart Ritchie and Barry Blankley begin their Hawks pre-season regime with a visit to Southern League Winchester City tomorrow (3pm).

It is the start of a 10-game programme which leads up to the opening of the Blue Square Bet South season on Saturday, August 18.

To date, the Hawks have made six new signings this summer and all are expected to feature at Winchester.

Assistant-manager Blankley believes the busy pre-season schedule will allow for a good look at the squad – and also enable them to cast their eye over a number of triallists.

In Blankley’s eyes, competition for a place in the starting line-up on the opening day of the season starts this weekend.

‘We have a squad of over 20 players and it will be all about competition for places,’ said Blankley.

‘All the players will get an equal opportunity in game time to state their case for inclusion.

‘It will be a long hard season and we will need the bigger squad.

‘Players will need to be rested at times.

‘Stuart and I are great believers, though, that if a player has the shirt and does well then he will keep it.

‘The ball is in the players’ court and they have to show us what they can do.

‘In the few sessions that we have had already we can see there is a great team spirit.

‘The pre-season games will come thick and fast, so they will get plenty of chances.’

Goalkeeper Matt Pegler and central defenders Sam Page and Ed Harris, signed this week from Dover, will be keen to make a good early impression.

Hawks’ Anfield hero Tony Taggart has come back from Sutton United, and youngster Lewis Stockford will be hungry to stake his claim after being released by Pompey.

Up front, ex-Dorchester striker Ryan Moss will compete with young strike duo from last season Ollie Palmer and Scott Jones.

The Hawks continue their pre-season next Tuesday at Sussex County League Selsey before entertaining Pompey for a prestigious friendly on Saturday, July 14.