STOCKPORT County will be hoping to carry on their good start to the National League North season when they host Worcester City at Edgeley Park on Saturday afternoon (KO 15:00 BST).
It was a summer of change in SK3, with a new manager in Neil Young and a whole new squad bar one after Charlie Russell left on loan for Ramsbottom United this week to become the final casualty of Young’s era.
With that comes the danger of a slow start. However, with August now over and a sixth of the season played, the Hatters are sitting in fourth place.
Young hasn’t been happy with his sides’ performances thus far and shows the high standards he sets but, with 14 points from a possible 21 so far, he must be content with the start he and his side have made to the season.
A disappointing 3-0 defeat to local rivals Stalybridge last weekend, in which County were reduced to nine men, was quickly corrected with an impressive 3-2 victory at last season’s losing play-off semi-finalists AFC Fylde.
Goals are a concern with only 10 being scored so far and the home form needs to be corrected sooner rather than later if the Hatters, who have dropped five points at Edgeley Park already this season, are to mount a serious promotion challenge.
This weekend’s visitors, Worcester City, have had a bitterly disappointing start to their campaign.
After finishing ninth last season, two places above the Hatters, they currently sit second-bottom having registered just four points from the 21 available so far.
However their ranks have been bolstered this week with the signing of former Notts County striker Lee Hughes, after his short spell at Evo-Stik Premier Division side Ilkeston.
The ex-convict, who spent three years in prison for causing death by dangerous driving, has scored over 300 career goals at a rate of a goal every 2.3 games before this season.
The Blues, who ground share with National League side Kidderminster Harriers, will be hoping the controversial striker will be able to kick start their season and he’s expected to go straight into the squad for the trip to Edgeley Park.
County will have Danny Hurst, the only remaining player from last season, and Glenn Rule available for selection despite their red cards last Saturday due to suspensions taking two weeks to come into effect at this level.
They are however expected to be without Abdulai Bell-Baggie who was substituted with an injury during the first half at AFC Fylde on Monday. Joe Garvin and Andy Robinson will also be unavailable through injury.
The visitors will be without the suspended Ashley Vincent, Clayton McDonald and Sean Geddes – while there is also an injury doubt over Ryan Rowe (dead leg) who missed Monday’s 4-1 defeat to Hednesford Town.
Stockport County: Hurst, Ormson, Morton, Connolly, O’Hanlon, Thorniley, Ellison, Roberts, Montrose, Rule, Ledsham, Kirby, Evans, Dyson, Colley, Odejayi, Gonzales.
Worcester City: Lloyd-Weston, Vaughan, Sharpe, Weir, Elvins, Minihan, Smith, Morris, Waldron, Deeney, Dunkley, Gater, Gudger, Jackman, Nash, Spencer, Rowe, Todorov, Nti, Hughes.
Referee: Shaun Hudson
Assistants: Craig Dean and Adam Williamson
By Callum Matthews