Notts County boss expected to carry on rotating squad for FA Trophy clash with Hawks at Westleigh Park
Notts County boss Neal Ardley is expected to again rotate his squad for tomorrow’s tie at Hawks as the Magpies aim to avoid a second FA Trophy exit in six months.
The club were beaten in the delayed 2019/20 semi-final by Harogate when it was eventually staged last September.
The timing was tough on Notts, whose league season was not due to start until a fortnight later while Harrogate had already begun their EFL campaign a few weeks earlier.
It’s a different story altogether now, with Notts having played three league games since Hawks last had a competitive match at Bath on January 19.
The Magpies head to Westleigh Park boasting the best defensive record in the National League, with keeper Sam Slocombe only conceding 13 goals in 17 matches.
He has only let in four in the last 10 games, of which Notts have won six to propel themselves into the play-offs with matches in hand on those above them.
Slocombe, though, is expected to be rested tomorrow with Luke Pilling taking over in goal, as he has done in previous Trophy ties at Morpeth and Stockport.
Nine-goal top scorer Kyle Wootton could also start on the bench with Mansfield Town loanee Jimmy Knowles and Elisha Sam up front in a 4-4-2.
Wooton, right, was a sub in the last round at Stockport, but came on to bag a last-minute winner.
Veteran holding midfielder Michael Doyle has started all 17 of his club’s league games in 2020/21, but he is another that could start on the bench - as he has done in the other two Trophy ties.
Ardley signed Oldham Athletic right-back Jacob Barnett earlier this week, but Calvin Miller could get the nod there ahead with regular Dion Kelly-Evans rested.
Barnsley loanee Matt Wolfe and Jake Reeves could pair up in central midfield with Ruben Rodrigues and Enzio Boldewijn on the left and right flanks respectively.
Ardley must also decide which of his three main centre halves to pair together.
Ben Turner, available again after a three-match suspension, could be handed game time as the manager will no doubt have one eye on next Tuesday’s home league game against Dagenham.
Alex Lacey and Connor Rawlinson could both partner Turner as Notts look for their ninth clean sheet in 13 league and cup matches.
Last season, the Magpies boasted the second best defensive record in the National League but possessed more goal threats.
Wootton was top scorer with 18 but both ex-Pompey loanee Wes Thomas and Khristian Dennis also hit double figures.
Dennis is now at St Mirren - he scored in last weekend’s shock win at Celtic - while Thomas was recently released from his contract after asking to leave for personal reasons.
Striker Inah Effiong, on loan from Stevenage, is ineligible to face Hawks having turned out for Barnet against Dorking in a previous round.