Hawks boss faces defensive rethink

Brian Dutton
Brian Dutton
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The Hawks will be forced to reshuffle their defence for Sunday’s Vanarama Conference South trip to Hayes & Yeading (3pm).

Central defender Brian Dutton is ruled out with a calf injury after limping off in the 1-0 FA Trophy defeat against Dover.

Manager Lee Bradbury reckons his experienced defender could be sidelined for a couple of weeks, which would be a big blow for the Westleigh Park club.

‘Dutts has been great for us and has forged a solid partnership with Ed Harris in the heart of our defence,’ said the boss.

‘The experience of both players has proved invaluable and losing one of them is a big blow – particularly as I have just let another central defender, Ryan Woodford, go to Bognor Regis on loan.

‘Ryan must consider himself unlucky because he has been waiting patiently for a while to get his chance.

‘I have other options, though, and will have to decide how best to cover his absence.’

One option for Bradbury is to recall the vastly experienced 37-year-old Pedro Monteiro, who has been involved as a player-coach.

Right-back Dan Strugnell is another player who can take on the centre-back role if Bradbury decides to move him.

If that is the case, Josh Huggins could slot into the full-back slot – where he began his Hawks career.

The game is being played at York Road on Sunday because Hayes & Yeading are ground sharing with Maidenhead.

As the Magpies are home to Bishop’s Stortford on the Saturday, it gives Bradbury further cause for concern over the playing surface.

‘Expecting a pitch to cope with two games in 48 hours at this time of year is ridiculous,’ said the former Pompey striker.

‘I know our pitch couldn’t take it and I am not sure there are many at our level that could.

‘The pitch is likely to be a massive factor and we will have to go there prepared to mix and match our game.

‘It is a case of being prepared to dig out a result whatever the conditions.’

Bradbury’s team are looking to boost their play-off ambitions by completing a quick-fire league double over the south London side.

It was only two weeks ago the Hawks recorded a confident 4-2 home win over the same opponents.

On that occasion Bradley Bubb scored twice and Ben Wright and Strugnell also got on the scoresheet.

Since then, Hayes have brought in four new players and Bradbury expects them to be a totally different proposition at their adopted home.

‘Hayes have made a number of changes and I am expecting them to be harder to beat this time around,’ he said.

‘They have a good record at home but it is important we get something.

‘We have some tough games in the next five or six weeks and it is about maintaining our momentum as much as we can.’

Hawks: Young, Strugnell, Monteiro, Harris, Cummings, Huggins, Stock, Donnelly, Ciardini, Wright, Bubb, Swallow, Blanchett, Ryan, Hooper, Mullings, Connell