Henshaw making a case for the defence in new position

ENJOYING ROLE: Ryan Henshaw in the heat of battle at Bloomfields as AFC exited the FA Cup at Needham Market
ENJOYING ROLE: Ryan Henshaw in the heat of battle at Bloomfields as AFC exited the FA Cup at Needham Market
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Ryan Henshaw believes he has found his natural role at AFC Sudbury after putting in a string of impressive displays at the heart of the defence.

The tough-tackling player, who briefly tasted Conference South football with Chelmsford City in 2010/11, is loving life as a centre-back and is determined to fight off the stiff competition for the position.

Initially used as a utility defender or midfielder, the former Cornard Dynamos youth product has blossomed after asking to be given a chance in his favoured role.

“This season I’ve been playing centre-half and been playing probably some of the best football I’ve played here for a while,” said the 21-year-old.

“I feel that is where I am strongest and a lot of people have said that over the years.

“Previous managers have said ‘you will be good at centre-half’ and (David) Batch has put a bit of faith in me and said ‘go and do it and prove it’.

“I feel like I have and I feel that is where I am seen as now, as a centre-half.”

The Dunmow-based personal trainer played alongside Josh Carus and recent recruit Greg Crane in a solid-looking flat back three in the 1-0 Robert Dyas League Cup win at rivals Bury Town on Tuesday, to put some of the disappointment of Saturday’s 2-1 FA Cup defeat at Needham Market behind them.

“We went into the Needham game thinking we were going to get something out of it and we were a bit disappointed with that,” he said.

“Now we’re back to winning ways, hopefully we can take that into the league.”

AFC host high-flying Ryman League Division One South outfit Crawley Down Gatwick on Saturday (3pm) in the FA Trophy first qualifying round first though, before struggling Ware visit as league action resumes on Tuesday (7.45pm).

James Baker (hamstring), Michael Shinn (knee) and Dave Cowley (flu) are all rated as having a 50 per cent chance for Saturday, while Josh Carus (work commitments) is unavailable with Steve Spriggs set to stay with parent club King’s Lynn Town to stop him being cup-tied.

Ross Watson (groin) could have a chance of returning in Tuesday’s game, one manager David Batch admits is his main priority of the two games.

“Obviously I want to win and get some money in the bank Saturday and I want the team to keep playing well,” he said.

“But if you said there was only one game to win, I’d take Tuesday.”