Stock value will be key for Hawks in FA Cup clash

Brian Stock in action for Preston
Brian Stock in action for Preston
Wes Fogden in action for the Hawks. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Bradbury fires warning as Hawks eye top spot

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Lee Bradbury believes his midfield general Brian Stock can play an important part in preparing the Hawks for their FA Cup tie against Preston North End.

The Hawks take on the League One side in the first round proper at Westleigh Park in front of the BT Sports cameras on Monday.

There is a danger the younger members of the Hawks squad could become a bit overawed when they step into the national spotlight.

In that situation, Hawks boss Bradbury believes Stock’s vast experience, gained from a successful Football League career, can make a huge difference.

The former Preston man will have a big role to play to ensure the youngsters keep cool heads and are not inhibited by the occasion.

‘Brian is someone who has played at a higher level and knows what it is all about,’ said Bradbury.

‘He has been in this situation many times before.

‘His experience will tell him that it is important to play the game and not the atmosphere or occasion.

‘He won’t be overawed and I expect he will play his normal relaxed game.

‘It will come naturally to him.

‘We will be training three times this week and Brian can be a calming influence on some of the players who have not experienced the hype before.

‘He will help us try to get across to the players that it is just another game and to concentrate on doing their jobs.’

Stock has already made a big impact at the club.

The midfielder arrived at the beginning of September after a long career in the Football League.

He made 145 appearances for Bournemouth, 193 for Doncaster Rovers, and 34 for Burnley who he helped win the Championship last season.

The 33 year old also made eight appearances for the Hawks’ cup opponents Preston North End in the 2005-06 season.

It is no coincidence the Hawks have only lost once in the 12 games Stock has played since his arrival at the club.

His presence in front of the back four has been a key factor in a string of clean sheets.

‘He takes up intelligent positions and made us look a lot more solid at the back,’ said the Hawks boss.

‘Added to that he has great ability and vision on the ball.

‘He played one 40-yard pass to Ben Swallow at Whitehawk that few, if any, other players could have done.’

Bradbury regarded the 0-0 draw at Whitehawk as good preparation for the cup-tie.

The Hawks had to dig in and show a lot of resilience in far from perfect playing conditions.

Their impressive work ethic should stand them in good stead against Football League opposition.

‘It wasn’t the best of games from a footballing point of view,’ said Bradbury.

‘But the desire we showed not to get beaten or concede a goal was important.’

Bradbury is also hoping that the unfamiliar surroundings at Westleigh Park might cause Preston problems.

He believes the crowd will have a big role to play.

‘They won’t be used to having the crowd in such close proximity,’ added the Hawks boss.