Bradbury backs strong squad to cope with busy spell

Warren Cummings. Picture: Dave Haines
Warren Cummings. Picture: Dave Haines
Richard Pacquette and Rocky Baptiste (right) celebrate with the Hawks fans after the win against Swansea

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There is a sense of frustration in the Hawks camp after yesterday’s eagerly anticipated Skrill South local derby at Gosport Borough fell victim to the rain.

The Privett Park pitch was left waterlogged, after the bad spell of weather, and an early pitch inspection only brought the inevitable decision.

Lee Bradbury was confident his side could complete a festive double over their neighbours, having won comfortably 3-0 at Westleigh Park on Boxing Day.

He also wanted his team to get the 2-2 draw at Farnborough – where they gave away a two-goal half-time lead – out of their system.

With his team still looking for success on three fronts – the Skrill South play-offs, the FA Trophy and the Hampshire Senior Cup – another postponement is the last thing Bradbury needs.

The Hawks already face a busy start to the year with a punishing schedule of seven games in the next three weeks.

It will provide a true test of endurance for Bradbury and his squad as they look to keep all their ambitions intact.

Much will depend upon how successfully Bradbury can rotate his squad.

‘We have got a lot of important games coming up,’ said Bradbury.

‘I want us to do well in all the competitions and that will mean changing things around a bit from time to time.

‘Luckily I believe we have the strength in depth that will allow me to do it.

‘We have got a good blend of youth and experience but I wouldn’t want to ask some of my players to play two games in three days.

‘Particularly on some of the heavy pitches we are experiencing at the moment.

‘Also, when players are coming back from injury I have the luxury of bringing them back in gently.’

That is what Bradbury did with defender Danny Blanchett after he returned from injury against Gosport Borough on Boxing Day.

At Farnborough, he was able to use Blanchett as a substitute, bringing in the experienced Warren Cummings.

Defender Pedro Monteiro, 35, is another who is benefiting with Bradbury being selective with his games to keep him fresh.

‘If we are to be successful it will mean involving all the squad members,’ said Bradbury.

‘All the players want to play every game but it is down to me to manage it.

‘I am honest with them and when I make changes I always explain why.

‘They might not always agree but they accept it.

‘As a group we win and lose together but I am lucky in that we have a very professional group of players at the club.’

The Hawks will be in league action on Saturday when they host Whitehawk.

They then turn their attention towards their big FA Trophy tie against Ebbsfleet United.

With home advantage, the Hawks must fancy their chances of making the quarter-finals and keeping alive the dream of reaching a Wembley final.