Preview: Injury-hit Tudors ready for Parkes’ return as Ebbsfleet come to town

Wilfried Gnahore in action in Hemel Hempstead Town's defeat to Bishop's Stortford. Picture (c) Terry Rickeard
Wilfried Gnahore in action in Hemel Hempstead Town's defeat to Bishop's Stortford. Picture (c) Terry Rickeard

Hemel Town boss Dean Brennan admits he will have to ‘patch together’ a side for the visit of National League South table toppers Ebbsfleet United on Saturday – with up to 10 players unavailable for the game through injury.

Jamie Slabber, Oliver Hawkins, Josh Hill, Terrell Forbes, Matt Spring, Zak Jules, Noor Husin, and James Potton are all doubtful, while Dennis Oli and Ed Asafu-Adjaye are definitely out.

Jordan Parkes returns to Hemel with new club Ebbsfleet on Saturday. Picture (c) Darren Kelly

Jordan Parkes returns to Hemel with new club Ebbsfleet on Saturday. Picture (c) Darren Kelly

Speaking after the team’s training session this morning, Brennan said: “We will patch a team together – we have got plenty of players out and plenty with question marks.

“I haven’t got a clue what the starting XI will be yet; I probably know the back four and the keeper, and that’s it.

“It’s another fantastic test of our managerial character because we are playing the team that has set the benchmark so far this season.”

Brennan has called on the Tudor faithful to stick with the team on Saturday, during what he describes as a ‘testing time’ at the club.

It’s another fantastic test of our managerial character because we are playing the team that has set the benchmark so far this season.

Hemel Town FC manager Dean Brennan

“These are the testing times in football, it’s alright when you’re winning and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, but there are more downs in football than there are ups so we have all got to stick together.

“That includes everyone; supporters, the chairman, the manager, the physio, staff, stewards, kit people – everyone has to stick together because that’s what a football club is all about. When we win, we are all cheering, when we lose, we are all down.

“It’s a tough period for us at the moment but we will keep taking it one game at a time and meeting every challenge with hard work and determination. We will stick together and see where it takes us.

“When it’s not going great, everyone wants to be the manager, but there can only be one manager, and when I get it wrong, I say so.”

Looking at the threat posed by high-flying Ebbsfleet, Brennan continued: “Everyone knows their players and we know how they play, but we will try to counteract that and impose our own style on the game. But we will see what personnel we have available first and take it from there.

“I think Macca (Daryl McMahon) has done an unbelievable job there this season – all the pressure is on them because of the amount of money they are spending, and I think for his first managerial job Macca has done absolutely brilliantly.

“People don’t give him the credit he deserves, they talk about the money he has spent but he has found his team from day one, and I don’t think it has changed much. He gets his subs spot on and he’s tactically very good and I think he has done a fantastic job.”

Saturday sees the return of Jordan Parkes to Vauxhall Road, following his tremendous stint as captain over the past couple of seasons, and Brennan is urging the Hemel fans to give him the welcome he deserves.

“Parkesy is a great kid with a lovely family. He’s a local lad and was our captain, but he has moved on to a seriously ambitious football club who have high aspirations of becoming a Football League side,” he said. “You can’t stop someone from going and taking that opportunity, because he’s earnt it.

“He did brilliantly for us after coming in on a free transfer as a full-back and we turned him into an attacking midfielder who gets goals. We are proud of what we did with him and wish him all the best with where he is now.

“I hope that everyone gives him a great reception because he gave us a great vibe around the club, he worked so hard and never shirked his responsibilities when he was with us. Saying all that, I hope he doesn’t do well on Saturday!”

On the players he feels could make a difference on Saturday, Brennan added: “All of our attacking players are missing, but it’s an opportunity for other young players to come in and take their chance – people like Willy Gnahore, people like Mo Shariff. They have been at professional football clubs so it’s a great stage for them to go and show that they are good players.”

Brennan is hopeful of re-signing Luton forward Zane Banton on a one-month loan deal, following a successful stint at Vauxhall Road last season.