Shropshire Star

Telford v Hitchin preview: Key players back with the squad for in-form Bucks

AFC Telford United’s squad are in good spirits ahead of their clash with fellow promotion hopefuls Hitchin Town this weekend.

Striker Reece Styche is set to be back in the squad after coming through concussion protocol, while defender Orrin Pendley has completed his suspension

Manager Kevin Wilkin has masterminded the Bucks’ recent run of five wins in six that has seen them climb from 17th to fourth in the Southern Central Premier.

And with several key players returning to his squad this weekend, the manager is hoping to keep the good run going at the New Bucks Head on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s third vs fourth and the buzz around training has been excellent so hopefully when it comes to it we give a good account of ourselves,” Wilkin said. “All our energy and focus needs to be on Saturday as we look to try and get a positive result.”

He added: “The run that we’re on and making New Bucks Head a fortress will take care of itself if we go about piecing things together on a consistent basis.

“We didn’t get ahead of ourselves going into last weekend’s game and we certainly won’t now, I know how quickly things can change.”

The victory Telford achieved at Berkhamsted last weekend could prove to be a huge one given the circumstances.

Six first-team players were absent, with four teenagers making the squad that did not even include a full quota of substitutes.

And Wilkin admitted the fixture list fell kindly, allowing Telford to have a stronger squad this weekend against stronger opposition.

“I was a little bit anxious going into a game that we probably should win with the number of players that we had out,” he said. “I’m delighted that we got the three points and now we can prepare for a massive game against Hitchin.”

The Bucks boss continued: “Without any shadow of a doubt it came at a good time for us. Certainly playing Berkhamsted, with the greatest respect to them, was probably a game that suited us at that moment. If we had to play Hitchin with the side we had to throw together last weekend it would’ve been a whole different story.”

Thankfully for Telford, several of last weekend’s absentees are set for a return to the squad to take on Hitchin. Ellis Myles and Orrin Pendley have served their one-match suspensions, while Reece Styche is fit again after sitting out the Berkhamsted game as part of concussion protocol.

Perhaps the biggest news for the Bucks is that club captain Fraser Kerr is close to a return from injury. Byron Moore and Twariq Yusuf remain injured, with Moore looking at ‘eight to 12 weeks’ on the sidelines according to his manager.

Opponents Hitchin sit a point ahead of Telford in the league, two points behind second-placed Needham Market.

Their squad, which includes former Birmingham City midfielder Stephen Gleeson, have found a level of consistency that has impressed the Telford manager, and he is ready for a difficult game.

“They’ve had a really consistent season and there are players there that are scoring goals for them,” Wilkin said. “I know a few of their players and I’m good friends with Mark, the manager who knows the level.”

He added: “I very much respect what they’re doing and we’re in for a tough battle, but we’re looking forward to it.”