Selection headaches for Kirkley & Pakefield boss ahead of Ely opener

Kirkley & Pakefield boss Paul Tong admits he has got a few selection headaches ahead of the Royals' Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League opener at Ely this weekend.

Kirkley go into the new season having shown some excellent form throughout pre-season, demonstrated by the 5-1 hammering of Wroxham at Walmer Road last weekend.

Tong's side also beat Lowestoft Town in a friendly last month and the former Great Yarmouth boss said the form of his squad has given him a few selection dilemmas to contend with before tomorrow.

'Before Saturday I had a very good idea of what my starting XI would be but it could change now thanks to a number of performances,' he said. 'People have pushed themselves to the fore and I've got a bit of thinking to do before Saturday's game.

'But to do anything you have to have a squad and hopefully the lads will have a bit of patience if they're not involved from the start.'

Tong hopes his side can continue their form in front of goal at The Unwin Sports Ground although he knows their pre-season form will count for nothing if they get off to a poor start.

'We are scoring goals at the moment and long may that continue,' he added. 'We have to make sure we keep the door closed at the back and if you can do those two things then you're going to do alright.

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'You get nothing for winning friendlies and we must not get carried away. The real work starts now but I can't fault the players over the summer.

'It couldn't have gone much better apart from Lee Hunter's injury which was really unfortunate.

'We have had some really good fixtures and hopefully all the work we've put in during those friendlies will pay off during the season.'

Tong believes the club's biggest challenge this season will be to maintain a level of consistency to ensure they are amongst the pacesetters of the division.

'With younger players it's a big ask to find that consistency and that's what we've got to strive for,' he said. 'There's a feelgood factor around the club – the reserves won the cup last year, the youth teams are going from strength to strength and hopefully we can top it all off. We've got to carry that confidence into the league and see where it can take us.'

Tong believes tomorrow's opponents will be among the leading sides in the division alongside the likes of Wisbech Town and Dereham Town.

'I think Ely will be one of the sides up there; Wisbech will be there as well.

'It's going to be a tough place to go – all we can do is prepare properly and see where it takes us.'

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