Injuries are big concern but defensive errors also worry Hawks

Matt Tubbs played well against Sutton. Picture: Habibur Rahman
Matt Tubbs played well against Sutton. Picture: Habibur Rahman
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With less than two weeks before the Hawks play their first game back in National League South Lee Bradbury admits they have plenty of work to do.

Their 5-2 friendly defeat at the hands of National League Sutton United highlighted a defensive frailty that needs to be sorted.

Bradbury’s main worry, however, continues to be the injury crisis that continues to rob him of up to five key players.

He faces a race against time to get a number of those players back before they travel to Chippenham Town on the opening day of the season.

For the game against Sutton he made up the numbers with two Pompey youngsters, Theo Widdrington and Jez Bedford, and they could figure in his plans over the next few weeks.

‘We have a bit of work to do but having said that I thought the first half was the best we played,’ said Bradbury.

‘I thought we were sharp, moved the ball well and gave them a lot of problems.

‘We looked fit, sharp and grew in confidence.

‘Jason Prior, with his height and strength and Matt Tubbs, with his guile, looked good together.

‘In the second half, though, Sutton changed the way they played and we didn’t recognise the spaces to play in.

‘We missed having a target man, having taken Prior and Tubbs off.

‘Tubbs is getting fitter, though he still has a bit to do having missed a fair chunk of pre-season.

‘The pitch was difficult with a lot of water lying on it and that caught a few people out.

‘They looked to press us and we made a number of bad decisions.

‘We still looked to play the ball out on a soggy pitch and we were punished for a couple of mistakes.

‘I am looking for us to defend better and make better decisions.

‘The two lads brought in from Portsmouth showed a lot of energy and fitted into the team very well.

‘We have two weeks left to get things right.’

Bradbury has two more friendly games, against Horndean tomorrow night and against Moneyfields at Westleigh Park next Saturday to make the improvements required.

Captain Brian Stock is almost certainly going to be out of those games because of his rib problem.

Dan Strugnell and Jordan Rose are also injury doubts.

‘We certainly will be starting the season light, but how light remains to be seen,’ said Bradbury.

‘That is why I have brought in the two lads from Portsmouth.

‘Going forward we have to keep monitoring our injury situation and these two didn’t do themselves any harm in the way they played.

‘We have a lot of games in the first three weeks of the season.

‘Players coming back from injury won’t be able to play seven games in that short space of time.’