Alex Pike insists he holds no grudges against Jamie Brown ahead of his former skipper’s return to Privett Park.
Just a few months after leading the side out at Wembley in the FA Trophy final last season, the combative midfielder left the club in controversial circumstances on the eve of the new campaign.
A row that began with his criticism of the club on Twitter after their pre-season trip to Guernsey, subsequently ended with the termination of his contract.
It was a heated argument with chairman Mark Hook that eventually caused a parting of the ways but Brown will be back at his old stomping ground tonight playing for new club Basingstoke in the FA Trophy first-round replay.
And although the Borough boss expects Brown to be even more motivated to perform against his old team-mates after missing Saturday’s 2-2 draw through suspension, Pike believes his central midfield replacement can prove that Gosport don’t miss him.
Pike said: ‘Jamie is available for the replay.
‘It will be completely down to him what sort of reception he gets.
‘Gosport are very professional in their approach. What’s done is done.
‘We welcome all of our ex-players back.
‘He was our skipper who led us at Wembley last season and that will never be forgotten.
‘I’ve got no hard feelings towards him but I’m not sure whether the chairman feels the same way about it.
‘I’m sure there will be a lot of huff and puff from Jamie and he will be trying that extra bit harder to prove we were wrong.
‘It doesn’t matter who the player is, when they play against their old club, they invariably play better and put that bit extra in.
‘They often seem to get on the scoresheet as well so, hopefully, that won’t happen.
‘But in my opinion, Mike Carter gives us a lot more.
‘He gives us creativity, a work ethic, he’s only 23 and Browner is 33. When I signed Mike, I knew he was a good player but I didn’t realise he was this good.
‘There’s no doubt in my mind he is above this level.
‘He is different and gives the team a different edge. It suits the way we play at this moment in time.’
While many feel Brown’s aggression and commitment has not been fully replaced in the Borough ranks, Pike believes Danny Smith has now taken on that role and will be ready for the battle ahead.
Pike said: ‘I think Danny Smith has assumed that mantle in midfield and gives us that bite. He puts his foot in and relishes a scrap.
‘When you lose someone like Brown, someone has to step up to the plate and Danny realised that.
‘Him and Carter have been having a great season so we will see who comes out on top.’
Pike’s men have been handed a home tie with Vanarama Conference Premier side Braintree in the next round if they come through the replay.
Dan Wooden is available again after illness but Andy Forbes is out with a calf strain.
GOSPORT BOROUGH (from): Ashmore, Molyneaux, Pearce, Poate, Williams, Carter, Smith, Dunford, Wooden, Ramsey, Wilde, Bennett, Paterson, Wort, Saez, Shaw