BOSS Tommy Wright is hoping Ivor Lawton and Liam Hughes will be available for selection for this weekend’s clash against Kings Langley to give Stratford Town some bite in the centre of the park.
Lawton failed a late fitness test prior to Monday night’s 3-1 defeat to Stourbridge after picking up a knock to the knee during the 2-1 victory over Needham Market on the opening day of the 2019/20 BetVictor Southern Premier Central campaign two days earlier.
Hughes meanwhile is yet to make his competitive debut for Town after missing the opening two games of the campaign through tonsillitis.
But Wright, pictured right, is hopeful the duo will be available for selection for Saturday when Kings Langley visit the Arden Garages Stadium (3pm kick-off).
“We have a relatively young squad and I think it was clear to see how much we missed Ivor and Liam on Monday night,” he told the Herald.
“I wouldn’t say we lacked any cutting edge in the final third on Monday, but we just lacked that experience and game management which Ivor and Liam bring.
“They know how to take a game by the scruff of the neck when you’re not playing well and that’s something we really missed against Stourbridge.
“Having Ivor and Liam in the squad not only gives a huge boost on the pitch, but off it as well, added to the fact they bring some leadership with them too.
“Ivor was captain on Saturday against Needham and I think he staked his claim for keeping the armband throughout the season.
“Despite missing out on Monday, he still wanted to be involved which was great to see.
“Liam is 50/50 for Saturday as I believe the last day of his antibiotics course is today, Thursday, or Friday so we’ll get him in training tonight to see what shape he’s in.
“Even if he doesn’t make the starting XI, having a player like him on the bench will give everyone a massive boost.”
One player who will be unavailable for the Kings Langley clash is Luis Morrison, with the defender suspended for three games after receiving a straight red card for a rash challenge on Kieran Cook late on in the defeat to Stourbridge.
Wright went to watch Kings Langley’s 2-2 draw at Peterborough Sports on Tuesday night and the Town boss is expecting an immediate reaction from his players after Monday’s disappointing performance.
“The preparations on Monday were the worst I have ever seen in my time as a manager,” he admitted.
“We had lads turning up at 7pm, that’s 45 minutes before kick-off and that puts you behind the eight ball from the start.
“I know there was some traffic, but I don’t buy excuses for being late and those individuals that were late left themselves open right from the off.
“We started slowly and were lucky to be only 1-0 down at half-time.
“I told the lads before kick-off and at the break about how to deal with Greg Mills down the left wing, but nothing was corrected and it meant I had to switch players around to try and nullify the threat.
“I want to see a big reaction from the players after that disappointing performance and more so from those four or five players that turned up late as they not only let me down, but they let themselves, their team-mates and the fans down.
“We really do owe it to our fans to put on a good performance on Saturday against a Kings Langley side which has got off to a flying start.”
Wright was left so frustrated by the manner in which his team slumped to defeat at the Glassboys, he stayed behind to speak to the loyal fans who had made the trip to the War Memorial Ground to witness the below-par performance.
“I thought it was the respectful thing to do to give the fans a chance to speak to me and ask questions – and hopefully that went down well,” he added.
Meanwhile, Town start their defence of the Southern League Challenge Cup with a home game against Halesowen Town in the preliminary round, with the tie at the Arden Garages Stadium to be played the week commencing 9th September.