Hawks striker Tommy Wright to undergo operation less than two weeks before start of 2022/23 National League season

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Tommy Wright will miss the start of Hawks’ 2022/23 National League South campaign after undergoing an operation.

The striker could be out for up to six weeks after his meniscus op on July 26 - less than two weeks before Hawks’ opening game at home to Slough Town.

Wright was troubled with the injury throughout the second half of last season, where he netted just once after January 22 as the club failed to make the play-offs.

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Boss Paul Doswell told The News: ‘It’s a big blow, but it (the op) had to be done. Tommy was struggling with it from January onwards. This is the quickest we could get him in.

Tommy Wright (yellow) in action for Hawks against Hampton and Richmond last season. Picture by Dave HainesTommy Wright (yellow) in action for Hawks against Hampton and Richmond last season. Picture by Dave Haines
Tommy Wright (yellow) in action for Hawks against Hampton and Richmond last season. Picture by Dave Haines

‘He could be out for six weeks, but if the surgeon takes the meniscus out we could be looking at just a couple of weeks.’

Apart from Wright and long-term injury victim Sam Magri, Hawks have a clean bill of health heading into the third friendly at home to Doswell’s former club Sutton United on Saturday at Westleigh Park.

The south London club have continued their upward trajectory since Doswell left in April 2019 - ending an 11-year spell in charge where he took them from step 7 into the National League.

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Under ex-Hawk Matt Gray, Sutton won the National League in 2021/22 and last season, their first in the Football League, finished just one point outside the League 2 play-off zone. They also lost 4-2 to Rotherham in the EFL Trophy final at Wembley.

‘Bruce Elliott (Sutton chairman) said to me once that I laid the foundations and put the roof on,’ Doswell remarked. ‘Matt has put the roof on and done the done all the landscaping too, and all on a small budget.’

Doswell has been ‘really encouraged’ by the two friendlies so far, a 3-0 home loss to Pompey - in front of an ‘incredible’ 3,500 crowd - and a 3-0 win at an Alton side who have just switched from the Wessex League to the Combined Counties.

The four new signings - Jason Prior, Danny Wright, Gianni Crichlow and Joash Nembard - have all featured, along with midfielder Jake Andrews, whose loan spell from Torquay last season was subsequently made permanent.

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Compared to previous summers where Doswell has rebuilt the Hawks squad, this year’s work has been a case of evolution rather than revolution.

He doesn’t foresee any more signings. ‘We wanted to get our work done early,’ he said. ‘The one surprise was Jason. We didn’t expect him not to reach an agreement with Dorking, but credit to the chairman (Derek Pope) for helping to get that one done.’

Hawks have a busy pre-season programme prior to their August 6 NLS curtain-raiser, featuring trips to Wessex Premier pair Horndean and AFC Portchester and Southern Leaguers Salisbury.

‘We wanted that to get minutes into the players,’ the manager explained. ‘They would rather play games than train.’

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Sutton will arrive at Westleigh Park having started their pre-season campaign with a 2-1 win at National League newcomers Dorking last weekend.

Doswell, meanwhile, expects Magri to be in contention for a playing return around November or December. The former Pompey defender has been sidelined since a serious ACL injury in last November’s FA Cup first round tie at Charlton Athletic.