Worthing Football Club joint boss Gary Elphick says his side will relish the opportunity to cause another cup shock on Saturday (3pm).
They beat Dagenham & Redbridge to reach the FA Trophy second round and will now host Sutton United at Woodside Road, with a bumper crowd expected.
Sutton, 14th in the National League, are in the hat for the FA Cup fourth round, with a tie at home to Leeds at stake if they win their third round replay at AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday.
Elphick said: “We’re going to love it as we love testing ourselves against top teams. It’s going to be a real guideline of where we are at and where we need to improve.
“One thing we hadn’t achieved before this season as a management team was taking the scalp of a top team.
“We’ve managed that twice now by beating Hemel Hempstead and Dagenham & Redbridge – they say things come in threes and it would be unbelievable if that was to happen. It would be another little step in the history of Worthing Football Club.”
Elphick does not believe Sutton will be distracted by their FA Cup replay and said: “We’d be very dumb to think it’s job done just because they’ve got their FA Cup replay on Tuesday.
“Realistically, which competition are Sutton most likely to win, the FA Cup or the FA Trophy? You get a lot of prize money for the FA Trophy as well. Even if they do come here and rest a couple of players ahead of their replay, it’s still going to be a very good side as they’re a National League team.”
Elphick feels his side are well prepared for the game and said: “We’ve been analysing them by looking at clips online and on YouTube and we’ll have them watched. I’d be very surprised if they haven’t done the same to us.
“I don’t know if they’ll fancy coming down here to little old Worthing or not. We know there’s going to be a big crowd but all we can do is concentrate on ourselves and put in a performance which we know we are capable of.”
Brannon O’Neill will miss the game through suspension. The midfielder was sent off while a substitute after a melee on the touchline in the 3-0 win against Tonbridge Angels. Worthing had hoped to appeal the decision but admit the footage is unclear, so O’Neill will now miss three games.
Winger Arron Hopkinson misses the game as he is cup-tied, while defender Jack Cook will be assessed after he was stretchered off on Tuesday.
Worthing’s other priority in January is keeping hold of their key players. Elphick revealed Worthing have had no offers for Omar Bugiel and feels it will be in the striker’s best interests to stay at Woodside Road until the summer.
He said: “We all hope nothing happens – less business now gets done in January, clubs tend to go season to season more.
“He wants to kick on and be a professional but it’s important he stays focused.
“Football is all about timing. I’ve spoken to him and said if he stays and scores another 20 goals, a lot more options will come up in the summer.
“I’m just hoping nothing happens with anyone. Lloyd Dawes has got back-to-back hat-tricks, Harvey Sparks is firing on all cylinders and Kane Wills has been brilliant. It’s a real team effort here, not just the Omar Bugiel show and we want to keep them all here.
“I don’t think we’ll bring anyone in unless someone leaves now. We’re really happy with the youngsters here and we want to bring them all on.”
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