Update from Graham Baker

Brian Caffarey
9:39am, Fri 25th Sep 2009
I spoke to Graham Baker earlier this morning to get an update from him before tomorrow’s FA Cup game at Hythe Town.

Signings of Nicky Nicolau and Jamie Hand
We started first, though, with the signings of Nicky Nicolau and Jamie Hand. “Both boys are the right age – mid 20s – with backgrounds with League clubs and will provide us with the quality and experience we need�, said Graham. He confirmed that both are eligible for tomorrow’s tie but Nicky picked up a hamstring twinge on Tuesday in training and is doubtful for tomorrow.

FA Cup game
Continuing on the injury front, Tony Sinclair is definitely out. Although an X-ray revealed no break, Tony’s leg is heavily bruised, with nerve damage too, and he hasn’t trained all week. Jon Boardman and Billy Hussey are still on the recovery trail. Jon will be doing some training with the ball next week – partly with the squad and partly on his own – and should be able to resume full training in 7-10 days. Billy Hussey is progressing well but will see a second consultant just to make sure that there is no residual ligament damage to his knee. Aswad Thomas is expected to resume training on Monday following treatment to his ankle.

There are illness concerns too over Mark Ricketts and Delano Sam-Yorke. Both missed training yesterday with a ‘bug’ and Graham will discover later if they’re going to be available for tomorrow.

On the suspensions front, Graham confirmed that Ross Worner will miss tomorrow’s game. He is bringing in another keeper today and will have two keepers in the squad for tomorrow – but hadn’t yet made his mind up, he said, about which two and who would be playing!

Graham also confirmed that Harry Arter and Delano Sam-Yorke will serve one-game suspensions on Saturday week, missing the game at Chelmsford. Graham explained that while Harry had indeed been booked six times, because of an administrative error either by an official or the FA, only five been recorded and therefore the suspension kicks in at the Chelmsford game and not tomorrow as had originally been stated. Graham thought that Harry’s record would continue to show five suspensions – but I’m sure Harry can soon put that right!

Graham is clearly not under-estimating Hythe Town. He’s had them watched last weekend and reports that they are a useful side, big and strong. He expects them to be ‘in our faces’ and will be drumming into his players that we’ll have to match them ‘effort for effort, tackle for tackle’. We’ve got to approach the match, says Graham, as though it’s the biggest game of the season – which, potentially, it is, given the rewards which a good Cup run could bring.

Reserve game this evening
With all the injury worries, Graham says, not surprisingly, that he’ll be putting out a young side in tonight’s reserve game at home to Merstham.

FA Youth Cup wins
Graham was clearly delighted with the wins by the Woking and Westfield sides during the week. I pondered what would happen if the draw pitched both sides against each other! Graham responded that it would be a very ‘lively’ game but there would be no problem in the sense that the two squads were separately registered. The Woking side is mainly second years, while the Westfield side is mainly first years, providing the latter with great experience for the future.

I said how impressed I’d been with our two strikers at Tooting, Ola Sogbanmu and Ollie Palmer. Graham is clearly equally enthusiastic: “Yes, they are two strong, powerful front players. Ola has got a real eye for goal and can sniff out chances whilst Ollie is more ‘buccaneering’ in style, with a great engine: he’ll run and run. We’ve rather lacked two powerful front players in the last couple of seasons. Both have got good technique, of course. This is an absolute pre-requisite for our Academy: boys have got to be able to control and pass the ball.�

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