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McAllister buys into Hill's Eastleigh dream
AS table-topping Eastleigh continue their quest for Skrill Conference Premier football at home to Hayes & Yeading tomorrow, manager Richard Hill has revealed that targetman Craig McAllister could already be playing at the next level.
Two Conference national clubs came in for the experienced 33-year-old before last month’s transfer deadline, but the former Oxford, Exeter and Crawley forward opted to stick with Eastleigh, where he began his career as a youth player, and help them achieve their promotion dream.
With admission FREE tomorrow, Eastleigh expect a big crowd at the Silverlake for the visit of a seventh-placed Hayes side managed by former Republic of Ireland and Liverpool defender Phil Babb.
Such is the Spitfires’ wealth of firepower that McAllister is not even guaranteed to start, but Eastleigh’s players are a tight-knit group these days and all mature enough to appreciate healthy competition for places.
“We’ve got a good squad of players and, though it’s a cheesy cliché, they’re all in love with each other,” smiled manager Richard Hill.
Having just celebrated his first year in charge, Hill has had to make some tricky decisions over the past 12 months, parting company with several big-name players he inherited.
Although he wouldn’t name names, one was let go not because Hill didn’t rate him but because, unlike McAllister, he wasn’t committed to giving 100 per cent.
“I’ve had to make one or two tough decisions, but it’s made the squad better in my opinion,” said Hill.
“One player told me he could play in this league at 80 per cent and that was the day I had to move him on. It told me his ambition wasn’t there and that a vital ingredient was missing for the success we want to achieve.
“I had no doubt he could play well in this league at 80 per cent, but why not play at 100 per cent and be even better?
“Too many players I inherited thought they were too good for this league and that playing at 80 per cent was acceptable. That’s why I made changes.
“The players we’ve got here now are here to win football matches and they’re enjoying each other’s company.”
No one personifies that more than lion-heart forward McAllister.
“Craig gets beaten up every time he goes on the pitch and he never moans and groans,” said Hill.
“Two Premier clubs came in for him and I had to give him the option of going because he’s not got many years left of earning good money, but he didn’t entertain it. He’s happy here.
“This club sold him the fact that they want to go places and Craig wants to be part of that.”
Tuesday’s 2-0 home result over Eastbourne was the Spitfires’ fourth league win on the bounce, leaving them a point clear of Bromley at the summit.
“We’ve had to work hard for our results with the places we’ve had to go to and I don’t think any other team could have done that,” said Hill. “But we’re bound to hit a sticky patch at some time and we’ll see how we deal with it when it comes along.”
Midfielder Jamie Collins should be fit tomorrow having been taken off as a precaution against Eastbourne with a groin niggle. Meanwhile, Will Evans has started training again after a pre-season knee injury.
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