SHOLING should look something like their old selves for tomorrow’s big FA Trophy third qualifying round test at home to Oxford City.

With the possible exception of Byron Mason, who has a groin strain, the Boatmen expect to have all their big hitters available for the visit of the Blue Square Bet North new boys.

Winger Marvin McLean had a midweek run-out for the reserves after three weeks sidelined with a hamstring problem.

Left-back Marc Diaper and wide man/forward Barry Mason both returned to action against Hungerford Town last week and Kevin Brewster should recover from a bruised back.

“We’re gradually getting players back now,” said relieved manager Dave Diaper, whose squad has been decimated by injury and availability issues all season.

Those problems, allied to cup commitments, have taken their toll in the league with Boatmen labouring second to bottom of the Southern Division One South & West.

Yet Sholing have progressed further than ever before in the Trophy, beating high-riding divisional rivals North Leigh 4-3 in a thrilling replay before upsetting Southern Premier outfit Chippenham Town 2-1 away from home.

Given that Oxford are sitting fifth in the BSB North, few will fancy Sholing’s chances – except, maybe, the Boatmen themselves.

Taking higher league scalps is nothing new to the Portsmouth Road outfit who pride themselves on their work ethic.

“We’ve come across higher league opponents before and haven’t let ourselves down,” said Diaper.

“I just hope we can do ourselves justice tomorrow."


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