Ritchie excited by Llanelli test

Hawks boss Stuart Ritchie. Picture: Dave Haines
Hawks boss Stuart Ritchie. Picture: Dave Haines
Brett Poate

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Hawks boss Stuart Ritchie is hoping to have key players back for the visit of Welsh Premier League outfit Llanelli to Westleigh Park tomorrow (3pm).

The experienced visitors will provide the Hawks with a stern test, having already tasted European football this summer.

The Reds suffered Europa League disappointment after suffering a 3-2 aggregate defeat against Finnish opponents KuPS Kuopio.

‘Llanelli are a top Welsh Premier side and we couldn’t wish for better opposition at this stage,’ said Ritchie.

‘It is important we get some of our key players back fit and playing again.

‘The last couple of weeks have been a bit frustrating with players missing.

‘We need to have them back because there are areas we are still looking to improve upon with a week to go before our first league game.’

Ritchie is keen to give new midfield signing Stefan Bailey more game time after illness limited him to 20 minutes against Gosport in midweek.

Wide players Tony Taggart and Christian Nanetti and goalkeeper Clark Masters are also expected to return.

‘It is important we continue to shape up and keep moving in the right direction,’ said the boss.

‘I am looking for us to maintain our improvement in midfield and the wide areas.’

Meanwhile, Ritchie expects two or three players to leave before the season begins.

HAWKS: Masters, Pegler, Arthur, Newton, Page, Harris, Bailey, Hutchinson, Ramsey, Nanetti, Taggart, Palmer, Kabba, Moss, Jones, Ryan, Whyte, Woodford

n Gosport continue their Southern League premier division preparations by hosting Ryman Premier outfit Whitehawk (3pm).

GOSPORT: Ashmore, Gofton, Jones, Martin, Cook, Molyneaux, Smith, Igoe, Kirby, Wooden, Bennett, Wilde, Cox, Coutts, Humble, Norton, King, Walshe, Simmonds