NEWLY-APPOINTED AFC Sudbury manager Chris Tracey has warned his players the competition to get in his team is about to heat up.
The club are currently seeking international clearance to allow free-scoring midfielder Rhys Darg to return after playing in Sweden, while promising young defender Adam Dalby joined this week from Ely City.
And with supporters’ player-of-the-year Jemel Fox set to be free from suspension for the first time in 56 days after the weekend, Tracey is relishing the selection headaches that await.
The Yellows’ boss, who was confirmed as a permanent replacement for departed Nicky Smith until at least the end of the season last Thursday, said: “Adam is a centre-half or full-back and he gives us versatility across the back.
“The back four have been playing well, only letting in seven goals in their last six games and we seem to have addressed our problems there, but this lad will enhance the competition.
“He is 21 years olds, but has been performing like a 25-to-26-year-old. He has got a good physique, has been organising a defence and wants to progress to a higher level.”
He added: “Jemel Fox’s suspension finishes Sunday and the competition is really hotting up.”
It is hoped Darg, who earned promotion from the Swedish sixth tier while finishing top goalscorer from a defensive midfield role with Ytterhogdals IK will be available soon.
The move is being held up until his registration is returned by the Swedish FA.
Tracey, whose side held out Blue Square Bet Conference South outfit Eastbourne Borough for 84 minutes before a sickening late winner in their FA Cup tie on Saturday, said: “He is a very strong player physically and good in the air. He will be a big plus for us.”
After Tuesday night’s 1-0 win at Heybridge Swifts in the Ryman League Cup second round, courtesy of a James Baker strike, AFC have another opportunity to erase their FA Cup heartache on Saturday by beating Arlesey Town, who play one league higher, in the FA Trophy first qualifying round in Befordshire (3pm).
“In the last three seasons we have had good Trophy runs, but the draw has not been very kind to us,” said Tracey. “They won the division at our level (Southern League Division One Midlands) last season.
“The players are starting to believe we can do something and hopefully we can reproduce how we played Saturday at Arlesey.
“If we do that, we have more than a decent chance.”
Steve Adams is likely to return after sitting out Tuesday with a knock while fellow defender Tom Devaux is said to still be four weeks away.
If a replay is necessary it will be at The MEL Group Stadium on Tuesday (7.45pm) while the league game that was scheduled for Tuesday, at Maldon and Tiptree United, has been postponed due to their involvement in the Essex Senior Cup.
n FA Cup report and picture special: Page 70