PETE Castle is Sholing’s latest injury concern as they look to kick-start their Southern One South & West campaign at home to promotion-chasing Tiverton Town tomorrow.

The big centre-back limped off with a knee problem towards the end of Wednesday’s 4-2 Hampshire FA Senior Cup win at Newport IoW and is a serious doubt for the below-par Boatmen, who have won just two of their ten league games to date.

Midfield powerhouse Byron Mason is still receiving treatment for a groin injury and will definitely miss the visit of fourth-placed Tivvy having been sidelined for the best part of a month.

Not for the first time this season, it leaves manager Dave Diaper bemoaning the fact that he never has a full squad to choose from.

But while the boss is clearly concerned to see the Portsmouth Road club languishing one off the foot of the table, he says it is far from doom and gloom at the Silverlake Arena.

“I went to see our reserves beat Petersfield 9-0 the other night and I was well happy with that,” he said.

“From the outside, it must look as if there’s a bit of negativity about the club, but that’s not the case.

“The club is generally in a good position because of all the players we’ve got coming through.

“We’ve got four or five really bright prospects in the reserves who I will be looking to blood in sooner rather than later.

“It saves me the task of trying to get players in from outside the area.”

Jamie Thomson, a former Sholing youth player, is now back in the ranks and scoring goals galore in the reserves.

“I took him to Newport on Wednesday and he played 60 minutes and did okay,” said Diaper. “Jamie’s probably the most natural finisher I’ve seen but he’s not been the hardest worker in the past and, this time round, he’s trying to get that into his game.

“We’ve also got several kids coming through that I’m really excited about.”

Lee Wort returned from a three-match suspension to sink a hat-trick at Newport. He will tomorrow get his first chance to link up with new frontline signing Jamie Musselwhite who also missed last Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Taunton.

But, while Wort has served his punishment, several other Boatmen are walking a fine line with bookings and Diaper’s fear now is losing key players to suspension over Christmas.

“We’ve got four or five who have either got five bookings already or are one away,” he said. “I don’t want to go on about refs, but some of them have been really cheap bookings and it means we could have players missing at a crucial time.

“We’ve got quite a few of the top clubs coming up, including Merthyr away on a Tuesday night and Poole away on Boxing Day. I don’t think many clubs would fancy that!”

Sholing have been drawn at home to Wimborne Town in the Red Insure Cup third round. Matches are due to be played in the week starting January 7.