Hastings United are set to be down to the bare bones for the trek to Lowestoft Town tonight (Monday).
Although Jamie Crellin and Tom Vickers return from two-match suspensions, Bailo Camara, Rory Murphy and Jono Richardson are all unavailable to make the 330-plus mile round trip to the Suffolk coast.
United were also waiting on the availability of Danny Ellis and Dee Okojie, and they’ve been looking into the possibility of extending the loan of goalkeeper Daniel East by an extra few days.
If East doesn’t play, reserve team stopper Matt Cruttwell is in line to make his first team debut. Incidentally, United are hoping that Matt Armstrong-Ford will make his return from a long term knee injury against Bury Town on Saturday.
With Richardson and Murphy out, and player-manager Sean Ray set to serve the third of his four-game ban, United look particularly short on defenders for the Ryman Football League Premier Division fixture against high-riding Lowestoft.
Speaking after the goalless draw at home to Hampton & Richmond Borough on Saturday, Ray said: “Lowestoft had to come to us last season, but it’s ridiculous really for non-league footballers to have to do it (make such a long journey for a midweek game).
“You’re asking boys to take half a day off work - which some boys can’t do - and some boys have got to take a full day off. But we’ve got to make the best of a bad situation and hopefully come away with something because it’s a long way to go to get beaten.”
Sixth-placed Lowestoft are unbeaten in all competitions since November and inflicted only United’s second home defeat of the season with a 4-1 victory in the reverse fixture on Saturday February 16. The Trawlerboys drew 0-0 at home to leaders Whitehawk on Saturday.