Squad depth a plus going into busy finish '“ Elphick
Worthing Football Club manager Gary Elphick feels squad depth will be critical as his side end their Ryman League Premier Division campaign with a busy week.
Trips to play-off chasing Wingate & Finchley and Tonbridge Angels are to come, while a home clash against rivals Burgess Hill Town is sandwiched in between in a busy eight-day period as Worthing bring their 46-game season to a close.
Lloyd Dawes (hamstring) returned as a substitute in Saturday’s Woodside Road draw with Kingstonian, while Ben Pope has come off the bench in each of Worthing’s past four matches.
With Corey Heath expected to make a return to the squad for Saturday’s clash at Wingate, Elphick feels he now has the strength in depth he’s desired in recent times.
He said: “We’ve got some good options going into a busy final week of the season. We’re being asked to play at 3pm on Saturday, then turn around and play at 12pm on Monday.
“I’m going to have to change things up between the two games as it’s going to be such a quick turnaround. Premier League players aren’t asked to do it, so I’m not sure why they expect us to do it in non-league.
“I’ll have to assess after Saturday and see what may need a shake-up against Burgess Hill.”
Despite having little to play for sitting in 13th and seven points clear of Kingstonian in the final relegation place, Worthing could have a big say in the play-off and relegation race. Wingate and Tonbridge sit sixth and seventh respectively and are looking to bridge the gap and claim the final play-off spot. Hillians sit two places above the drop zone and are fighting to remain in the division.
Elphick sees this as an opportunity to breed a winning mentality between now and the end of the season.
He added: “In our final three games we play teams still involved at the top and bottom of the table. Everyone we play will have something to fight for, so we could be influential on where teams finish.
“I’ve said for a while I don’t want us just to settle for safety. Let’s finish as high as we can and take some momentum into next season.”
Saturday’s clash with Kingstonian was a first game in sole charge for Elphick.
Former joint manager Jon Meeney decided to step down from his role with immediate effect last Tuesday and Elphick admitted it was a strange feeling being in the dugout alone.
He said: “It was quite weird not having Jon there alongside me.
“We’d spoken and things have been left amicable. I think it was a case of us both finding our own identities and taking responsibility on our own. I’ve got no doubt he’ll be back in the game soon enough and in a good role.
“Jon’s a top coach and I enjoyed my time working with him at Worthing.
“The focus is on me now and I’ll give it my best to make sure this club is successful.”
Worthing go to Wingate & Finchley on Saturday, before returning to Woodside Road and welcoming rivals Burgess Hill at midday on Monday.
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