The busy schedule of fixtures at The Camping World Community Stadium continues this evening as Mark Hawthorne’s U23s prepare to host their counterparts from Woking in the Hornets’ latest pre-season friendly. This will be the fourth and penultimate outing of the summer for Hawthorne’s newly assembled squad and follows defeat at the hands of Loxwood’s senior side and Littlehampton Town, and a 3-2 success over Roffey, and, like all managers at this time of the year, Hawthorne admits to being frustrated at not being able to field a settled side.

“We’ve got a few on holiday, as you always do at this time of the year, others have got injuries and some are unavailable for other reasons so it does make things a bit difficult” said the former Hornets’ first team captain. “Unfortunately when you deal with players at U23 level, a lot of them feel they should be playing first team football which makes it difficult to get them in, but we knew it was going to be tough after starting the summer from scratch. But we’re still very much about recruitment at the moment so its a very busy time and the phone is always ringing. We fielded three trialists in the last game and we’ll continue to take a look at players and try them out in different positions. At the moment we’re about 50% sorted so we have quite a bit of work to do yet but I’m feeling pretty positive that we will have a squad ready for the start of the season”.

The contrast between Horsham’s fledgling side and Woking’s couldn’t be more marked, with the Surrey club’s set-up one that we can only aspire to at this current time. The Cards’ Academy has been in existence for a decade and has provided the stepping stone to professional careers for the likes of Cheltenham Town’s Chris Hussey and Crawley striker Ollie Palmer, while the U23s have recently returned from a week’s trip to Holland where they underwent training sessions at Feyenoord FC. The Academy has already seen several players earn a first team call up during Woking’s preparations for their Conference South campaign and 19 year old Charlie Hester-Cook was a member of the Leatherhead side that played against the Hornets at The Camping World Community Stadium on Saturday, having agreed a season long loan with The Tanners. “It’ll be a big test for us” admitted Hawthorne “but I expect them to be similar to us in terms of ages, with quite a few youngsters in the team”.

Woking came out on top in the most recent meeting between the two clubs when, in September 2014, they beat Horsham U18s 7-0 in an FA Youth Cup tie.

The match kicks-off at 7.45pm and admission is FREE


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