Eagles swoop on troubled Westleigh Park

Lee Bradbury. Picture: Dave Haines
Lee Bradbury. Picture: Dave Haines
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Lee Bradbury admits his resources are stretched to the limit for tonight’s friendly against a Crystal Palace XI at Westleigh Park (7.45pm).

The hosts are without seven senior players due to illness and injury.

The latest casualty is central defender Ed Harris, who received a nasty head injury at Hungerford Town on Tuesday night.

Bradbury and his players are still reeling after that game turned nasty.

After the injury to Harris, caused by an elbow, Bradbury took his players off and the game was abandoned.

‘We are looking forward to getting back to playing a game of football,’ said the Hawks boss.

‘Crystal Palace will pass the ball and play the game the right way.

‘They will be bright young talents and well educated in doing things correctly.

‘It will be a big test for us because of our missing players.’

The situation is so serious that Bradbury has already called off next week’s friendly at Sholing.

He wants to avoid picking up any more injuries and of making additional demands on the players who are fit.

Brian Dutton, JJ Hooper, Ed Harris, Pedro Monteiro and Perry Ryan are all sidelined by injury.

Dan Blanchett and Alek Przespolewski are ill, leaving Bradbury with a huge headache.

The defection of striker Dennis Oli to Hemel Hempstead after he had agreed terms has also thrown the Hawks’ plans into disarray.

Bradbury faces a race against time to get a competitive squad ready for the opening Conference South game in just over two weeks.

And the events at Hungerford have not helped.

‘I find it difficult to understand the mentality of what happened in midweek,’ said Bradbury.

‘In the end it was nothing short of disgraceful.

‘It was pretty much from the start and there were a couple of really bad tackles.

‘You would never see any of my players getting involved in anything like that.

‘When we play teams of a higher standard like Crystal Palace and West Ham we don’t go out to kick them off the park.

‘The challenge on Ed Harris was appalling and he has been scarred for life.

‘He has an inch and a half gap from the top of his eyebrow to his temple.

‘It could have been a lot worse and he can count himself lucky.’

Against Crystal Palace, the Hawks know they can expect a competitive but fair test. Bradbury believes the perfect Westleigh Park playing surface will allow both teams to display their footballing talents.

In the meantime, the Hawks boss is renewing his search for a replacement for Oli.

At the moment he only has one fit striker – Bradley Bubb – at his disposal.

If they fail to get Dutton fit for the start of the season, he may also have to find an experienced midfielder.

Hawks: Young, Bevan, Searle, Strugnell, Cummings, 
Woodford, Huggins, Donnelly, Ciardini, Wedlake, Bubb, Swallow, Medway