Trio back as Hawks get set for Thurrock

Share this article
Former Pompey striker Jermain Defoe

On this day: Defoe - I've no Pompey regrets

The Hawks are boosted by the return of three key players ahead of their trip to Thurrock (3pm).

Defender Sam Pearce, midfielder Bobby Hopkinson and striker Mustafa Tiryaki are all available again after suspensions.

All three are likely to feature tomorrow after last weekend's disappointing 3-0 home defeat to Farnborough.

Central defender and captain Ian Simpemba, however, is still suspended and will continue to be a big miss.

The Hawks have been impressive on their travels so far this season and are looking for their fifth straight away win.

Manager Shaun Gale knows they will have to improve on recent home performances if they are to achieve it, though.

'Our away form has been fan-tastic and we have shown great resilience,' said the West Leigh Park boss.

'Thurrock will be another tough test but having the three players back gives us a bit more strength in depth.

'Last weekend was disappointing but was the culmination of a few things.

'Missing players and the dis-ruption caused by the weather both contributed.

'The performance wasn't good, though, and we need to learn from it quickly.

'We conceded poor goals and they stemmed from our poor decision-making at times.

'Our last two performances have been below par and it is important we pick things up.

'We have to get back to doing the things we do well and start passing the ball like we can.

'Farnborough outmuscled us and it was no good hoisting the ball around the necks of Manny Williams, Sammy Igoe and Giuseppe Sole.

'That just made it easy for the Farnborough defenders.

'The three players coming back should give us a more physical presence.'

The absence of Simpemba is a big blow, though, especially because of his communication and leadership qualities.

When things start going against the Hawks, there is a tendency, particularly for the youngsters, to retreat into their shell.

'We need a few more players to stand up and be counted,' said Gale.

'At times we need a few more leaders out there.

'Individually – and collectively – we must do better, especially when things are not going our way.

'Our experienced players need to do more to help the young lads.

'You don't become a bad team overnight.

'And last week it showed we hadn't played for more than two weeks.'

Manny Williams and Wes Fogden are suffering from knocks but both are expected to recover in time to play.

The Hawks host Eastleigh in the Hampshire Senior Cup on Monday night (7.45pm).

Hawks: Howe, Newton, McDonald, Cashman, Pearce, Woodford, Udoji, Selley, Fogden, Igoe, Hopkinson, Hinshelwood, Williams, Tiryaki, Sole, Ramsey, Sewell, Ashmore.