Howell welcomes competition for places up front

Five strikers vying for two places

ST ALBANS City boss David Howell faces some difficult choices ahead of this weekend’s game with Leamington but the City boss has welcomed his latest selection dilemma.

Strikers Sakho Bakare and Aaron Lansiquot both got on the scoresheet as St Albans brushed aside their neighbours Hemel Hempstead Town on Monday and with veteran striker Paul Furlong hoping to shake of a knock and Simon Martin in fine form the City boss has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal ahead of Saturday’s clash.

Furlong’s injury handed Bakare the opportunity to stake his claim at Hemel and the French striker responded with a superb opening goal after just five minutes. The former Neuchatel Xamax forward is currently the club’s leading goalscorer and on another day could have had a hat-trick against Hemel but with Lansiquot also impressing in his brief cameos competition for places is hot, much to the delight of Howell.

“Normally I pick a team in my head straight after the game, jot it down on paper and look at it the night before the next match,” explained Howell.

“But I’m pleased with the lads and that’s what you want. You want competition for places and players that haven’t been playing coming back with the right attitude. Rob Haworth’s another option but he’s short of match fitness.

“Paul Furlong was also out and there are still people like Matt Cutchey who missed the game and Danny Hart was out.

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“There are still players there that, if the team are playing with confidence and the side are doing well, they can all contribute and I’ve got to make sure the side stays focused and doesn’t get too confident and complacent.

“Unfortunately Sakho has been a little bit up and down. He’s our leading goalscorer but he’s only started a handful of games all season.

“He’s been doing it from off the bench. He was ill at the end of last week so I told him to get some rest and I would start him on Monday. With our veteran striker Paul Furlong picking up a knock he was never going to play two games in three days. I thought Sakho did well but probably should have got a hat-trick.

“The young lad [Lansiquot] I brought on I like. He’s a bit more direct and he’s less thrills and a bit more substance. He came on and showed that with literally his first touch when he slotted it away beautifully so that was pleasing.”

Howell was happy with the way his side bounced back from the disappointment of defeat at Weymouth on Saturday and believes his challenge now is to guard the squad against complacency.

He said: “I’m very pleased with the lads at the moment. I was disappointed with the defeat at Weymouth [Saturday] but since Hitchin, the three results were good for us but the performances were also there.

“The first half of the season has been very up and down. We were looking at the stats and David Ijaha has played with 13 different players in the centre of midfield from the start of pre-season so we’ve been a bit up and down with changing.

“Some of that has been my fault and some I’ve had no control over.

“I’m pleased the lads are starting to settle now and if we can get that settled and get the goals at one end and keep clean sheets it bodes well for the side. We’ve just got to keep getting the results and I’ve got to make sure we do that and complacency doesn’t set in.

“There were periods in the first 25 minutes of the second half [against Hemel Hempstead] where we felt we’d done enough and you could see it. That’s where you get a little bit complacent and you give the opposition a chance. I don’t think Hemel were in the game at all really and did feel we bossed and controlled the match.”