The Academy’s pre-season campaign was put on hold yesterday after Andy Awford was forced to pull his side out of a visit to QPR.
With six of his under-18 squad nursing injuries – and several others with the development squad that visits Salisbury tonight – the Academy chief was left with no other option.
Now coach Paul Hardyman is hoping the majority of the walking wounded – Lewis Gill, Conor Chaplin, Lewis Horsburgh, James Grainger and Harry Medway – will be available for selection soon, with Saturday’s trip to meet Reading at their plush Finchampstead training ground next on the agenda.
All five had to sit out the 3-2 defeat at the hands of a powerful Oxford United at St John’s College playing fields on Saturday.
But Hardyman was delighted with the efforts of the lads who were drafted in to play against a side packed with first-year professionals.
‘They all did very well given the strength of the Oxford side and gave us the opportunity to see how they dealt with playing at a more senior level,’ he said.
‘Unfortunately the match at QPR had to be called off but Andy is trying to rearrange it, hopefully as early as next week.
‘But for now we have to focus on tonight when several of our lads will feature at Salisbury.
‘Had the match at QPR gone ahead, it would have been difficult for any of them to play 24 hours later.
‘It’s always difficult for players to come to terms with picking up pre-season injuries.
‘All of them have worked hard in training, so hopefully they will respond to treatment and be available again soon.’