What sort of team will King's Lynn put out at Notts County?
- Credit: Ian Burt
Ian Culverhouse faces a selection headache for Tuesday night’s trip to Notts County - and the irony of the situation won’t be lost on the King’s Lynn Town boss.
Even before he and owner Stephen Cleeve have to cull the squad to ensure they can see out this National League season, Culverhouse was without a host of players – all in defence.
Kyle Callan-McFadden is suspended, while Aaron Jones, Ross Barrows, Rory McCauley and Alex Brown are injured. It leaves him with just three dedicated defenders - Chris Smith, Tyler Denton and Tai Fleming.
In the neighbouring dug-out, County boss Neal Ardley has lost Ben Turner and Tyler Golden to injury, but instead of having to mix and match, he’s on the lookout for additions to his squad.
“We need another centre half and right back and whoever comes in has got to be ready to go,” said Ardley.
“I think (assistant manager) Greg Abbott had about 20 minutes with his family yesterday – other than that he was on the phone all day, but it’s tough because not everyone answers on a Sunday.
“We’ve continued that hard work into today – we’re doing everything we can to try and get a couple of really good bodies in really, really quickly.”
And there you have it – an almost perfect example of the division that has split the National League during times of financial turmoil.
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County could afford to vote for the season to continue – and given they have ploughed a ton of money into going back up, they are entitled to see democracy at work, but it is the inability to finalise a financial package that lasts a whole season rather than just half of it that sees Lynn and a handful of others club in very different situations.
Chatting to Lynn midfielder Cameron King after the draw with Weymouth on Saturday, it was clear that this fixture, at Meadow Lane, against one of the football world’s oldest names, was something the players had been looking forward to, albeit in the most unusual of circumstances.
Who the excellent King will have playing next to him at County is anyone’s guess – the list of players who stay and who are furloughed isn’t pubic knowledge, although those who follow the Linnets fortunes might be able to make some good guesses.
The financial plan Cleeve has drawn up has the approval of Culverhouse. The manager had quietly, almost conspiratorially, spoken of good times ahead, of how he could see things turning in Lynn’s favour. That assertion may need to be revised now as he attempts to integrate some strange new faces into his squad.
If Lynn make it to the end of May, the lack of relegation issues with the feeder leagues should mean they will be safe, no matter where they finish.
Professional pride will dictate there is no slackening of effort, but it is hard to see this not being personally painful for a manager who has led Lynn to successive promotions and who has embraced the future plans for developing the club into a full-time operation.
Carrying on will also extricate themselves from the FA’s charge sheet which, at a time when smaller clubs like Lynn are looking down the back of the sofa for spare cash, are still threatening teams with fines, loss of points or demotion for not being able to cope in an unprecedented crisis not at all of their own making,
Just a fortnight ago, Notts County visited The Walks and were fortunate to leave with a 1-0 win. If Culverhouse and his team leave Meadow Lane with their heads held high on Tuesday night, it will be a minor miracle. Even for a manager with the magic touch.