Wimbledon friendly last chance to impress

Ed Harris, right. Picture: Dave Haines
Ed Harris, right. Picture: Dave Haines
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LEE BRADBURY hopes to have central defender Ed Harris back in action for tonight’s friendly against AFC Wimbledon at Westleigh Park.

Harris has been sidelined for the last week after being elbowed in the head in the ‘friendly’ at Hungerford Town.

That game ended with Bradbury taking his players off the pitch fearing for their safety.

Hungerford Town manager Bobby Wilkinson has since issued a public apology to the Hawks for the foul and suspended and fined the perpetrator Harry Goodger two weeks’ wages.

Wilkinson suggested, however, that Harris was guilty of an off-the-ball foul on his player minutes before to spark the reaction.

However, Bradbury dismissed the accusation and defended his player.

‘No-one on our side saw anything like that,’ said Bradbury.

‘I spoke to Ed and he said that as their player tried to run the channel he stepped across his line to stop it happening. That is what you expect any good defender to do.

‘Hopefully Ed will be back in contention this weekend, though we will probably have to protect his head with a bandage.’

Bradbury is also hoping to have injured pair Brian Dutton and JJ Hooper fit enough to play some part in the game.

The two new boys have missed almost all of pre-season due to calf and hamstring problems.

It would be a big boost for the Hawks if they can get them some action, with the Conference South season just a week away.

Bradbury views this final pre-season friendly as an important part of his preparations and said: ‘League Two Wimbledon will give us a good test.

‘They have some quality players and will pass the ball around.

‘I have a good idea of my starting line-up for our opening league game but there are still places up for grabs.

‘Players can still force their way into the reckoning.

‘Against Wimbledon they will need to be brave on the ball and show that they are ready to compete.

‘It is time for them to take more responsibility and ownership of what happens on the pitch.’

One player not involved is goalkeeper Scott Bevan, who was appointed as the full-time goalkeeping coach at Pompey this week.

Though Ryan Young, signed from AFC Telford, is set to become first-choice keeper, Bevan was expected to push him for his place.

Bradbury isn’t worried though, because 19-year-old Charlie Searle showed last season that he can provide excellent back-up when called upon.

‘The opportunity with Portsmouth was too good for Scott to turn down,’ said Bradbury.

‘These chances rarely come around and though it may have happened a year or so early for Scott, he had to take it.

‘All it means is I have two quality goalkeepers instead of three.’

Hawks: Young, Searle, Huggins, Harris, Woodford, Strugnell, Cummings, Blanchett, Monteiro, Medway, Ryan, Donnelly, Swallow, Bubb, Mullings, Ciardini, Dutton, Hooper, Wedlake,Bradbury L, Przespolewski