AFC TOTTON have three players suspended for tomorrow’s revenge mission at FA Cup conquerors Cambridge City.
Central defender Ross Bottomley and right-back Ryan Hill miss one match for stacking up five bookings, while Jono Davies faces three games on the sidelines after seeing red for a rash challenge at Leamington.
With Cambridge up to third in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division and unbeaten in eight league games, losing a trio of first-team regulars is the last thing Totton boss Steve Riley needs given his small squad.
And, having been without suspended midfielder James Coutts for the last three games, he feels the time has come for the Stags to get their disciplinary house in order.
“I’ve had a word with the lads about future discipline,” he said.
“We’ve been picking up cards needlessly and we need to cut it out.
“I don’t mind players taking a yellow card for the team by stopping a side counter-attacking in the dying minutes. Sometimes that’s a good foul.
“But getting booked for kicking the ball away or sent off for a rash challenge when the ball is going out of play is needless and we can’t afford to lose players with the size of squad we’ve got.
“Sometimes it’s down to frustration, but I’d rather they took that frustration out by kicking the ball into the back of the opposition’s net.
“Jono had a rush of blood up at Leamington and was sent off for a needless foul. He’s apologised, but the players need to learn from it. The bottom line is that we’ve lost him for three games.
“We’ve got options tomorrow. Jamie Rudd and young Luke Roberts can both play wide right, James Coutts is back and I can shuffle the pack a bit.
“But you’d always rather have your best 16 to choose from.”
Despite the absentees, Riley is still confident Totton can take at least a point off a Cambridge side who beat them 3-2 at the Testwood Stadium in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round before taking MK Dons to a replay.