Gosport Borough have been told to focus on league survival before getting caught up in FA Trophy hype.
Borough can clamber out of the relegation zone with victory over third-from-bottom Whitehawk tonight at Privett Park (7.45pm), before they face part one of their semi-final showdown against Hawks this weekend.
It could be argued that this is the bigger game for Alex Pike’s side as they attempt to preserve their Skrill South status against a side who are deep in trouble themselves.
Assistant boss Mick Catlin said: ‘I’m not sure which is the bigger game, but in terms of staying in the league, it’s obviously a massive game for us.
‘We’re just hoping the pitch beats the weather.
‘If we want to claw our way out of trouble, we have to be winning our home matches against the teams around us.
‘The Whitehawk fixture is one we have targeted to get maximum points from. So we have to make sure the Trophy game is not a distraction going into it.
‘We can’t afford to look one game ahead.’
The Privett Park outfit have five games in hand on their Brighton-based opponents but can draw level on points with victory.
But Borough have a better goal difference and could climb as many as three places to 18th with a win.
Pike is also expected to hand a debut to on-loan Bournemouth midfielder, Josh Carmichael, who has played four first-team games for the Cherries.
Carmichael completed his move over the weekend but, after picking up various injuries, he has not featured for the Dorset club since October 2012.
The 19-year-old provides cover for Danny Smith, who is struggling with a hamstring strain, while skipper Jamie Brown is suspended for Saturday’s showdown at Westleigh Park.
Catlin added: ‘Josh is big, strong and he’s very good technically, as you would expect coming from a Championship club.
‘He impressed me in training at the weekend.
‘He’s had a bit of experience playing first-team football for Bournemouth but picked up an injury and has been out for a while.
‘But he’s coming back from that and needs to get some games at a decent level.
‘We’ve got a few contacts at Bournemouth and we were asking around.
‘And we wanted to bolster the squad a bit with so many games coming up.
‘I think we will be looking to get him straight into the side.
‘We’ve brought him in because we know about Jamie Brown’s two-game suspension kicking in after this game.’
Catlin, however, insists that Borough cannot afford to rest anyone, with Saturday’s clash in mind.
He said: ‘I don’t think we can do it with the size of the squad.
‘We’ve got a few players who are cup-tied in the Trophy so it’s been a bit of a different side in the league.
‘Generally, we are picking our best team available and we will do so again.’