Blue Square Bet
Published 16th August 2012
......to take a competitive squad to newly-promoted Billericay Town on Saturday for their opening Blue Square Bet South game of the season.
At the end of last week, it seemed as if City would have to depend on reserve players for the game in Essex, after the financially-troubled club failed to meet the players' deadline for their owed wages to be paid.
But in a dramatic 11th hour development on Friday, cheques from Salisbury City chairman William-Harrison-Allan's company, CGA Holdings, arrived to pay the players and manager Lee Hodges.
And now as a result, the squad will remain, providing suitable assurances for the rest of the season are forthcoming and all the signs seem to be positive.
The exception is striker Barry Hayles, who has signed for Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division outfit St Albans City.
The veteran played sixty-six games for City over two seasons, scoring twenty-eight goals, but was unable to agree terms to remain with the club and is said to be "gutted" as to how things have turned out.
Definitely out for Saturday, are the injured trio of Marcus Martin, Steve Adams and long-term absentee Martin Watts.
Striker Stewart Yetton may also have to wait a week or two to make his 300th City appearance because of a hamstring problem, though he did take part in a training game at Treyew Road on Tuesday evening.
There was also a minor scare when Andy Watkins had to go off with a groin problem, but it is hoped he will be fit for the trip to Essex.
Also missing is boss Hodges, who serves the first of a two-match ban on Saturday, and he will then miss Tuesday night's home game against Havant & Waterlooville.
Martin Gritton looks highly unlikely to play for the club this season, mainly because of work commitments, while Barry McConnell and last season's top scorer Scott Walker joined Southern Premier side Weymouth in the summer.
It has hardly been the ideal pre-season preparation for manager Hodges who has spent the summer desperately battling to keep the squad together. Because of their off the field problems, City have played just three friendlies – the last against Falmouth Town on July 28th.
And Hodges admitted his squad were probably "two to three weeks" behind where he would have liked them to be at this stage of the season.
Speaking after Tuesday's practice match he said: "I think we were a bit rusty. It was a good work out and exactly what we needed."
With the club still under a transfer embargo, they can only sign sixteen players, one of whom will be big young striker Keiffer Moore who has impressed in pre-season.
Hodges said: "My assistant-manager Dave Newton has done brilliantly in finding him. He is raw and has plenty to learn but he will cause teams problems."
And if all goes to plan, Hodges is hoping to also boost his squad with a couple of loan players from Plymouth Argyle in time for Saturday's match.
But he is under no illusions as to how difficult it is going to be for City to stay in the league for a second successive season, after finishing fourteenth in the last campaign.
He said: "The boys' minds have been elsewhere and it is now a case of trying to get them motivated and ready for Saturday.
"We are trying to focus on the game and the aim is to have a team who can compete in this league. It has been a hell of a pre-season and if at end of April we are all still here and in this league it will be some achievement."