IN-FORM Eastleigh will be without the attacking artistry of Damian Scannell as they bid to make it five Blue Square Bet South wins on the bounce at Hayes & Yeading tomorrow.
The right-sided midfielder went off with a groin injury just 12 minutes into last Saturday’s 1-0 home victory over Chelmsford and has been ruled out for the trip to Hayes’s temporary home at Woking’s Kingfield Stadium.
“Damian will definitely miss Saturday, but we’re hoping he’ll be fit for Tuesday’s Havant & Waterlooville game,” said manager Richard Hill.
In Scannell’s absence, Hill pushed right-back Mitchell Nelson further forward against Chelmsford.
“Mitchell did a great job there but, with no disrespect, I think if we’d had Damian for the whole 90 minutes, the result might have been different,” said the boss.
“Seeing a player like Damian go off is bound to give the opposition a lift and it took us a while to get into the game.
“Morale-wise it lifted Chelmsford more than it did us for a 20-minute period, and that’s not surprising because, as an attacking threat on the right, Damian is probably better than anyone in this league.
“But Mitchell did fine. When I ask people to play in another position, I don’t expect them to do the same as the player who usually plays there.
“All I ask is that they do an honest job and play to the best of their ability.”
With Adam Watkins pulling a thigh in training, the on-loan Luton midfielder is doubtful of playing.
Should he also miss out, Hill’s right-sided options may rest between Nelson and young Corey King, who is available again after a toe problem.
The Spitfires’ defensive choices have been boosted by the return of Alex Lacey, who has rejoined on loan for the rest of the season, albeit that Luton could recall him after the first month.
The Lacey deal was one of the last pieces of business manager Paul Buckle did before he left Luton for personal reasons on Tuesday and Hill acknowledged: “Paul’s done well for us.”
With Boreham Wood beating Salisbury in midweek, Eastleigh are now five points adrift of the play-off zone and Hill is wary of people getting carried away with their recent burst of form.
“We know where we want to be, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do,” he said.
“We’ve got to win 60 per cent of our remaining games to give ourselves a chance, but we’ve not even won 50 per cent of our games so far this season.
“The stats are against us at bit, but we’re playing well at the moment.”
Following defeat at Bromley on the first Saturday of 2013, Eastleigh were second bottom.
“If the powers that be had decided it was time for a change (of manager) after Bromley, then fine,” said Hill. “I’m big enough and experienced enough to know it can happen.
“But irrespective of who the manager is, the club could only have dreamed then of being in the position we’re in now.
“We’ll strive to finish as high as we can, but we need to stay mindful of how we felt a few weeks ago.
“Let’s get to the end of March and, if we’re still doing well, we’ll get excited then.”