LEE BRADBURY has called on his Hawks players to earn their starting spot for the new season, ahead of their friendly with National League Eastleigh at Westleigh Park tomorrow (3pm).
In-form Hawks can expect a tough test after remaining unbeaten in their first three friendlies.
Bradbury’s team have beaten Horndean and Swindon Supermarine and drawn with League Two Pompey.
The manager is pleased with what he has seen so far but with just four games left before the National League south campaign kicks-off, he expects his squad to step it up again.
‘We are heading into the serious end of pre-season,’ said Bradbury.
‘It is a time when players will need to stake their claim to be in the starting line-up.
‘Up until now we have been giving all the players in the squad a chance.
‘Now I will be looking to get 70 to 80 minutes into each player.
‘This game couldn’t be at a better time coming up against a club a league higher than us.
‘We are aspiring to get where they are so it will be an excellent pointer.
‘They are a strong physical unit with lots of experienced players and will make us work hard.’
One pleasing feature so far has been the added threat up front provided by Bradbury’s three new strikers.
Matt Paterson and James Hayter both opened their Hawks account with neat finishes in the 2-0 win at Swindon Supermarine.
Target-man Marvin Morgan was also unfortunate after being denied by some excellent saves from the home goalkeeper.
Over the next four games Bradbury will concentrate increasingly on the style and patterns he wants his team to play.
‘I have a couple of systems in mind that I will look us to play,’ said Bradbury.
‘Now it is about looking at the players and seeing where they fit into them the best.
‘The squad is gelling well both on and off the pitch and improving every training session.
‘Against Eastleigh it will be important that we go out and compete, try to win and come through unscathed.’
Nic Ciardini is extremely doubtful after picking up a dead leg at Swindon and Liam Kimber and Jake Gale are also missing.
The two academy graduates are playing at Worthing with a view to securing loan deals.
HAWKS: Young, Strugnell, Cummings, Blanchett, Stock, Molyneaux, Harris, Dutton, Swallow, Donnelly, Clifton, Paterson, Morgan, Hayter, Mullings, Ridge, Medway, Searle
– KEVIN RICKETTS