How strong a side to face Stanley?
Five matches into the season, and suddenly our first cup match is upon us. In previous seasons it has been our chance to play the big guns, to prove ourselves against Premiership opposition.
But now we are the big guns, and have been consistently proving ourselves against Premiership opposition throughout the season. It is the turn of one of the most mocked teams in football to try their luck against one of the top teams in the country, as we prepare to face Accrington Stanley.
As we have had first hand experience of at Watford, the underdog always puts up a good fight to the end of the match, and is certainly capable of sneaking a result. We have been showing the attitude this season, we have just been unlucky in terms of sneaking results, but this was different in our cup run to the semi-final a couple of seasons back. And we must be wary of Accrington turning the result against us.
So, this raises the question, what sort of a team do we field against League 2 minnows? Is it worth risking injury to our starting XI? I would argue that we should field a couple of players with first team experience this season, who haven`t quite hit good form yet, such as Henderson upfront, who needs to get a goal.
However, there are a few players at the moment, who in the eyes of neutrals, have gone missing at the club, such as Macca and Chambers (who couldn`t even make the reserves team!). I feel it is essential that these players are given some first team football, as well as some of the promising youngsters, such as Parkes at left back - we don`t want to risk Stewart getting an injury as Powell is still sidelined.
Also I feel we have to respect the opposition. They haven`t fought hard for their chance against the big guns, in order to play against a load of academy reserves; this is a chance for Accrington as a club and the individual players to show they are capable of playing at this level.
However, we do need to rest our players. Being underdogs in the league, means we have to play at a quick tempo for a full 90 minutes each match, and even with good fitness regimes, this must tire the players. This meaning the majority of our first team regulars should be given a rest to keep them at their peak.
I think within the cup as well, if we proceed to the next rounds of the competition, we should keep a pretty similair team throughout it (unless some of the reserves manage to push themselves into regular first-team action) in order to boost confidence.
Although the League should remain our priority, as we want to make sure we remain as one of the big teams, and don`t become a minnow again.
WRITTEN BY STUART BROWN