Castle hoping for speedy conclusion to hearing

Midfielder Hutton departs Clarence Park

ST ALBANS City boss Steve Castle is hoping for a speedy conclusion to the Football Association’s investigation into the club’s payments to players after the hearing was postponed for a second time.

Club officials were due at Wembley today (Thursday) to meet with the FA but the hearing has been postponed again this time because of an illness to one of the FA representatives. The original hearing in December was adjourned while the investigation continued.

Should the Saints be found guilty their likely punishment will be a fine and a points deduction, although the FA says each case is judged on an individual basis. A points deduction could throw the Saints back into the relegation zone and Castle admits the uncertainty has proved frustrating.

“There’s nothing we can do about it but if they are going to wield the axe it would be better if they could do it as quickly as possible,” he told the Herts Advertiser.

“All we can do between now and the decision is collect as many points as possible so we can deal with it without going into the bottom three.

“We’re just trying to look at it as positively as possible. You look at it and think maybe the delays have been because they haven’t got enough evidence but you really don’t know.”

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The Saints will have to do without winger David Hutton after the former Tottenham man agreed to join the Glenn Hoddle Academy in Spain.

Hutton has been a key player for the Saints in recent weeks with a Man of the Match performance in the win at Boreham Wood and a goal in the Saints’ draw last time out with Bromley.

Castle said: “He’s been selfish and decided he’d prefer the Costa del Sol to St Albans, I don’t understand it myself! But all jokes aside Dave’s had an opportunity to join the Glenn Hoddle Academy and that can open a few doors.

“His main worry was that if he went over there and it didn’t work out he would have burnt his bridges with us but that certainly isn’t the case. He goes with our best wishes although reluctantly because he’d just found some cracking form with a really top class performance against Boreham Wood and a goal against Bromley.”

Saturday’s trip to mid-table Basingstoke Town is the start of a busy few weeks for the Saints who are due to play twice a week for the next four weeks. While Castle admits that punishing schedule will be tough on his threadbare squad the City boss believes positive results will help make their task easier.

“We’re a little bit behind in terms of games now and what we’re going to get is games coming thick and fast but if you can get positive results it can be a bonus,” he said.

“They’ve had enough rest now so fitness shouldn’t be a problem. We’ve got a few issues with Mark Peters and Ben Martin and playing two games a week is a tough ask but we have got a bit of cover and we’re trying to get a few people on board. What it will do is give the players on the fringe a chance to get involved.”

One player the Saints will welcome back into the fold at the Camrose is Spanish striker Pelayo Gomez.

“We’ve got to find a permutation between Ollie Palmer, Inih Effiong and Pelayo Gomez, whose coming back in,” explained Castle.

“They’re three fit young boys who will cause a lot of defences problems. If we can keep it nice and tight at the back we’ll have a good chance.

“It does seem the team who wants it more on the day usually does win. It’s a strange season. You look at the results like Boreham Wood beating Chelmsford and Basingstoke who’ve gone to Bromley and won against a Bromley side who I thought were one of the best sides to come to Clarence Park this season. You really can’t predict what is going to happen.”

* The club has confirmed new dates for two of their outstanding fixtures.

The club’s trip to Hampton & Richmond, which was postponed on December 28, will now take place on Saturday, February 5. The Saints had been due to travel to Dartford on that date but will now make the trip to Princes Park on Tuesday, March 22, due to the Darts’ continued participation in the FA Trophy.