Telford v Hereford - Match preview

AFC Telford United’s injury crisis may show no signs of abating – but there remains plenty of competition for places.

Gavin Cowan issues some instructions as AFC Telford United return to training at Lilleshall National Sports Centre
Gavin Cowan issues some instructions as AFC Telford United return to training at Lilleshall National Sports Centre

Midfielders Jack Byrne and Dom McHale are set to be assessed ahead of tonight’s clash with Hereford, while four other key men remain sidelined. And that means others are vying for places – including Harry Bower and Matthew Barnes-Homer, who came off the bench in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Guiseley.

Boss Gavin Cowan said: “If the players are playing as well as they are in the XI at the moment then it’s going to pick itself, but we are quite fortunate to have the bench – even with injuries – pretty loaded.

“We were really excited to be able to get Harry Bower on the pitch Saturday – a young lad who’s come out of obscurity seemingly, but he’s been doing really well in developing with us in pre-season and one we want to keep developing.

“It was brilliant to get Barnesy on the pitch because I think he really suits that role if we’re playing with one centrally and I think he showed that in the 10 minutes he was on the pitch.”

Courtney Meppen-Walters and Brendon Daniels stepped up their recoveries on Saturday by taking to the pitch for some light training prior to kick-off.

Henry Cowans and Shane Sutton are the other two who remain out through injury – while there are concerns over Byrne and McHale ahead of tonight’s game.

“Jack probably played at 80 per cent on Saturday because of the injury list, and then took a big whack during the game, which has since blown up,” said Cowan. “Dom should be OK, but he’s had quite a tight hamstring for some time now and we’ve been trying to manage that.”

One player who has been promoted into the team is Jordan Davies.

The Welshman scored his first goal for Telford on Saturday during an impressive display – and Cowan explained how he was persuaded to take a chance on the former Prestatyn Town frontman.

“We had numerous CVs and people contacting us every day, and he came across my path,” said the Bucks boss. “I looked at what he had been doing, he had been on trial everywhere and he had got a really good record in the Welsh Division One and then did a bit in the Premier League as well. It was just something that struck my eye a little bit and, with the type of player he was, I just thought it was something we needed. I reached out to give him an opportunity, and an opportunity he’s decided to develop.”

Another avenue Cowan hopes to explore for possible signings in the future is through Telford’s relationship with Shrewsbury Town – a partnership he hopes will continue after Steve Cotterill replaced Sam Ricketts last week.

“I haven’t come across him, but I’m sure he’s got his hands full at the moment and his hierarchy of importance won’t include myself at the moment,” said Cowan. “So once he’s settled in and got grips with the job in hand then absolutely we want to try to continue that relationship with him and Brian (Caldwell, chief executive) over there.

“Since I’ve had the role, I’ve been very vocal about how I didn’t think the two clubs were competing on any level and that we could benefit each another at this moment in time, and that Shropshire solidarity would be quite nice. The relationship has been really successful – we’ve been able to take Ryan Sears twice and given him games, and I think we’ve been integral in the development of Ryan Barnett.

“We’ve taken our top goalscorer (Daniel Udoh) and when he had numerous clubs chasing him, we were able to work that relationship with Shrewsbury to help them benefit from him – and he got another goal on Sunday.”

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