Bradbury: Ideal time to face big-spenders

Nic Ciardini will make his competitive debut for the Hawks against Ebbsfleet Picture: Dave Haines
Nic Ciardini will make his competitive debut for the Hawks against Ebbsfleet Picture: Dave Haines
Hawks boss Lee Bradbury. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Hawks boss shrugs off setback in Cornwall

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Lee Bradbury believes the Hawks are fully prepared for their daunting Conference South opener at highly-fancied Ebbsfleet United (3pm).

The Kent side had an eventful summer that almost saw them go out of business following their relegation from the Conference National last season.

They were saved, however, at the last hour by a Kuwaiti-based consortium who have since ploughed substantial sums of money into the club.

It is believed new manager Steve Brown has had a transfer budget of £100,000 to play with and a wage structure of around £8,000 a week.

He has recruited a number of players with experience at this level, placing Ebbsfleet among the bookies’ favourite to go straight back up.

They will represent a massive test for Bradbury on the opening day of the campaign.

But the Hawks boss is relishing the challenge and the opportunity for his new-look side to add to the pressure on Brown’s shoulders.

‘We are ready,’ said Bradbury.

‘It is a tough opener but it is a game we are looking forward to.

‘I have been to watch Ebbsfleet and, like us, they try to play football so it should be a good game on a nice playing surface.

‘They have brought in some quality players and if they click they can be a real power in our league this season.

‘From our point of view, though, it could be a good time to meet them before they have had time to gel.

‘We are certainly not going there to lose and possess the quality in our own squad to get something out of the game.

‘It’s a case of going there and working hard from back to front.’

Bradbury will be looking for his side to repeat the resilience they showed on their travels in the latter stages of last season.

The Hawks proved hard to beat on the road and the manager is likely to adopt a similar set-up for this campaign.

Bradbury may opt for the experience of both Eddie Hutchinson and Pedro Monteiro in front of the back four in the absence of the combative Perry Ryan, who is suspended.

Up front, Bradbury is likely to start with his new strike partnership of Dennis Oli and Sahr Kabba, with Christian Nanetti on the flank.

Oli signed last week and scored in the friendly against Charlton Athletic on his debut.

‘We have got good experience running through the spine of our team which can be priceless,’ said Bradbury.

‘Losing our leading goalscorer, Ollie Palmer, to Mansfield two weeks before the season wasn’t ideal timing.

‘But Oli is a good replacement, giving us a physical presence and a quality others can play off.

‘It’s not just down to the forwards, though – others need to up their goalscoring, too.’

Keeper Scott Bevan, full-back Dan Blanchett and midfielder Nic Ciardini, along with Oli, will be making their competitive Hawks debuts.

Pacey wideman Serge Makofo, however, has turned down a short-term deal with the Hawks and is not involved.

New midfield signing from Newport (IOW), Alex Przespolewski, is unavailable and young defender Joe Noakes is still recovering from injury.

Hawks: Bevan, Newton, Harris, Strugnell, Blanchett, Hutchinson, Monteiro, Ramsey, Kewley-Graham, Nanetti, Kabba, Oli, Woodford, Jones, Ciardini, Searle

n The Hawks’ first home game against Farnborough on Monday night may not take place. The visitors have reportedly just exited administration and are waiting confirmation of their acceptance into the league.

But Conference general manager Dennis Strudwick expressed his doubts whether the club would be able to play tomorrow against Maidenhead United and then the Hawks on Monday night – with a decision expected today.

‘As Farnborough are a new company, they have to satisfy the league’s requirements,’ said Strudwick.

‘We have sent the details to them and are awaiting their reply.

‘If they don’t meet the necessary requirements, their game tomorrow won’t take place and Monday’s game at Havant will also be under threat.

‘Once we have dealt with this matter then we will tackle Farnborough’s player name-change situation.’

Farnborough players and manager, as part of their new Paddy Power sponsorship, are proposing to change their names by deed poll to those of famous footballers.

If they are allowed to do this, on Monday night the likes of David Beckham, Gordon Banks, Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Franz Beckenbauer could be running out on to the Westleigh Park pitch.