AFC TOTTON boss Steve Riley has a rare selection headache for tonight’s Southern Premier Division assignment at Chippenham Town, writes Wendy Gee.
With only a slimline squad at his disposal, Riley has never had the luxury of player rotation that some managers enjoy.
But with Ross Bottomley, left, due back from a one-match suspension tonight, he must decide whether to reinstate the experienced centre-back or stick with 17-year-old AFC Bournemouth loanee Baily Cargill who had an outstanding debut in Saturday’s slender 2-1 FA Trophy defeat at Conference National high-fliers Forest Green Rovers.
“Baily came in and didn’t let anyone down,” said Riley. “He’s a very capable lad and I was quite impressed with him.
“With Ross coming back, it gives me a selection headache, but it’s one I’m pleased to have. It (the centre-back department) is an area where we haven’t had a lot of competition.”
Although Riley’s ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ philosophy has served him well with team selection to date, he knows the sheer weight of fixtures is bound to catch up on the squad eventually.
“We’ve got two tough away games coming up, at Chippenham tonight and (second-placed) Leamington on Saturday, and playing Saturday-Tuesday each week is quite hard physically,” he said. “But we’ve got lads waiting in the wings like Luke Roberts, Chris Mason, Jamie Rudd and Ross Casey and it will be good to freshen things up if we need to.
“Fortunately we’ve been quite good as far as bookings and injuries go, but we’ll need to be sensible and careful with how we manage things.
“I’ve spoken to one or two clubs regarding loan players and if we get the opportunity to bring players in, we will. We’ve got some big games coming up next month.”
Having won five and drawn one of their six games prior to Saturday’s Trophy exit, tenth-placed Totton are a team in form. But Riley expects a stern test against a Chippenham side who sit three places below them in the table but triumphed 2-0 at St Albans on Saturday.
Striker Tom Knighton, newly signed from Yate Town, scored on his debut, but the Bluebirds have lost skipper and midfielder Scott Rogers – a summer signing from Eastleigh – due to work commitments.
“I’ve played and managed many times against Chippenham and they’re always an organised, competitive outfit,” warned Riley. “It’s a tough place to go.”