Mehew: This is your chance to hold down first-team place
SUSPENSIONS will hit Gloucester City hard for the traditional Boxing Day trip to Worcester City.
The postponement of Saturday's home game against Guiseley means that boss Dave Mehew is without a trio of his key senior players for the derby clash.
Captain Matt Coupe, record appearance maker Tom Webb and key summer signing Lewis Hogg will all miss City's last ever trip to St George's Lane.
But far from being frustrated at the unavailability of key players, Mehew is instead challenging those left in their wake to step up to the plate and force him into making long-term changes.
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"I've told the players who are playing at Worcester that it is up to them to keep those three out of the side for the next game," Mehew said.
"It's a chance for someone like Matt Liddiard to come in and show what they can do, and also for Jordan Goddard as the senior man in midfield to step up and dominate.
"We've got a good squad going up to Worcester, even without the three who are suspended, and hopefully my players can thrive in the derby day atmosphere."
Worcester are currently on the fringes of the Blue Square Bet North play-off places, having made some expensive additions to their squad in the summer.
They can count on a number of former Tigers in their ranks, including top scorer Mike Symons, versatile defender Tyler Weir and loan winger Charlie Reece.
However prior to their 2-0 success against Bradford Park Avenue at St George's Lane on December 15, Carl Heeley's men had gone three months without a home win.
Mehew hopes that their uncertainty on home turf can be exploited, especially as City go into the game on the back of two wins in their past three games.
"I always break the season into 14-game sections and we've got our second chunk under way with six points out of nine," Mehew said.
"That has ensured that we've got off to a good start ahead of tough games at Worcester and Brackley and then home to Worcester on New Year's Day.
"The key now is to keep chipping away at the points record if we can, especially over this tough run of games."
The early decision to call Saturday's Guiseley clash off, allowed Mehew to put his players through a stringent training session at Hartpury College.
The City squad did some tough heart and lung workouts to create what Mehew jokingly called some "Christmas pudding room."
The City boss will not be giving his players any hard and fast rules for consumption on Christmas Day, preferring to treat them like adults.
"They're not kids, at the end of the day, and you have to trust them to do what's right," Mehew said.
"We had a tough session up at Hartpury to create some Christmas pudding room and that will set them up well.
"I don't mind if they have a drink or two and a big lunch, but if they turn up on Boxing Day and they don't look right then they won't play. It's as simple as that."
City travel to third-placed Brackley Town on Saturday, before welcoming Worcester to Whaddon Road on New Year's Day, both 3pm kick-offs.
Boxing Day's game will be the last time City travel to St George's Lane with Worcester set to vacate the historic ground at the end of the season.