RICHARD Hill has saluted the courage of his Eastleigh players for battling through the pain barrier for the club cause.

Goalkeeper Graham Stack and right-back Gavin Hoyte both played on in discomfort during Saturday’s 2-2 home draw with Dagenham & Redbridge – Stack with a groin strain and Hoyte with a badly swollen eye following a clash of heads with Daggers frontman Oliver Hawkins.

But what many in the 1,614 Silverlake crowd would have been unaware of was that skipper and midfielder Sam Togwell was soldiering on with a spiral fracture of the arm sustained in the opening-day draw at Bromley.

“Our fans should be applauding these people,” said manager Hill. “Sam Togwell went to hospital where his arm was put in plaster, but he sought advice and was told it wouldn’t get any worse, so he took the plaster off himself. They told him that if he fell on it, it would hurt, but he said he didn’t care.

“It was the same with Hoyte. He said he could only see out of one eye, so I shouted across to him about coming off and he said ‘no, I’m staying on.’ He’s got a nice swelling on his eye, bless him, but he’s a tough lad and he should be OK.

“It tells you a lot about them as people and about how they feel about being at this club.”

With no back-up ’keeper on the bench, Stack also battled on against Dagenham, but Hill stressed that goalkeeping coach Ross Flitney IS fit and available.

“Just because I chose not to go with a ’keeper on the bench doesn’t mean Ross isn’t part of the squad,” said Hill.

“When I left Whitehawk I did a little exercise and worked out that in over 170 games (as Eastleigh and Whitehawk boss) I’d had to bring a ’keeper off the bench once.

“If I’d had a sub ’keeper on Saturday, I’d have had that option, but it’s the gamble you take.

“It’s easy to jump all over Richard Hill when he hasn't put a 'keeper on the bench, but how many times could I have done with such and such a player and didn’t have one because I had a goalkeeper on the bench instead?”.

Hill is hoping to tie up a loan deal for a League Two defender in time for tomorrow evening’s (Tuesday, 7.45pm) Vanarama National League trip to Woking.

The unbeaten Spitfires - sitting eighth with a win and two draws – need more backline cover with further tough assignments to come this month against Tranmere (home), Leyton Orient (away) and Aldershot (home).

Centre-back Reda Johnson missed the Dagenham game with a groin problem and is unlikely to face a Woking side who have banked three points from as many games.

Cards boss Anthony Limbrick, a former Saints youth coach, admitted after Saturday's emphatic 3-0 defeat at Barrow: “We were definitely not happy with the way we defended in the second half.”