Martin pressing for start
SIMON Martin pressed his claims to lead the City attack when the season kicks off at home to Havant & Waterlooville with a lively display in the final first-team friendly on Tuesday. The tall striker scored with a header in the second half and could have
SIMON Martin pressed his claims to lead the City attack when the season kicks off at home to Havant & Waterlooville with a lively display in the final first-team friendly on Tuesday.
The tall striker scored with a header in the second half and could have had a hat trick as he tormented the Watford defence with strong running.
Lee Clarke is doubtful for the opener with a back injury picked up on Friday at Cheshunt, leaving Martin and Paul Hakim the only two fit strikers at the club. Daniel Chillingworth was not involved against Watford after interest from Cambridge City and City manager Steve Castle is considering his striker options. He said: "I need another centre forward but I am not going to be rushed into getting someone. I have a couple of players in mind. I have only got three strikers so we had a look at Rod Hicks up there in the second half. Rod will be integrated into the squad as he gives us options. Daniel Chillingworth is up at Cambridge City at the moment. I think the season has come too soon for him. I know he is a damn good player when he is fit but that may be three or four weeks away. I don't think St Albans have seen the best of him.
"I haven't made my mind up about playing Lee Clarke in midfield or attack yet. I think there is goals in him. If you put him back in central midfield I think you lose a lot of goals out of him. He has a natural poacher's instinct."
After the match on Tuesday Castle was hoping to seal the signings of Ben Bowditch, Rod Hicks, the substitute goalkeeper Chris Adams who replaced Paul Bastock in the second half and Ashley Grinham.
Bowditch is expected to combine with Sean Ridgway in a new central midfield pairing as City open up on Saturday against Havant. Castle was happy with the performance of the duo against Watford. He said: "The two of them have gelled reasonably well. Sean likes to get himself forward and get his shots away and Ben sits in there and keeps the ball well. I am pleased with that."
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Castle is also keeping his eye on the progress of youngster Luke Thurlbourne who impressed for City last season before signing a contract with Southend United. The energetic midfielder has suffered with illness since the end of last term and has not played in pre-season at United.
Young goalkeeper Adams looked in good form when he replaced Bastock against Watford and is another player Castle is keen to add to his squad. The manager said: "Chris is a confident lad. Paul Bastock will be my number one but it will be nice to have someone who could be pushing him. Training alongside Paul is a good experience for Chris and will be a benefit to him in the long term."
Castle is anticipating a tough test when City open up against big spenders Havant on Saturday before making the trip to Worcester City on Monday. He said: "We have got a hell of a start. It will be tough. Havant will be strong. We are playing against the so-called favourites but I am more concerned with our performance. If we perform like I know we can we will give anybody a game in this league.
"Everybody in the squad is nice and positive about the season ahead. It is good to have a little bit of optimism as well as a little bit of caution. We have a nice base. We are creating chances and we look solid. James Quilter has done well in defence but we maybe need the acquisition of another centre back and having only three strikers is not ideal."
l More City news, see page 30 .