Salford City manager Gary Bowyer is looking forward to welcoming players back from injury for the Ammies FA Cup clash against Dagenham and Redbridge tonight and hopes this can kick-start Salford’s season.
Bowyer has been without ten first team players for the past few weeks but is now starting to integrate one or two of them back into the squad following spells on the sideline that have halted the sides start to the season.
They currently sit in 19th place in League Two, but despite this the manager believes that performance levels have been good and that soon his side will start converting these performances into points, especially with the return of a number of key players.
The hope is that Monday’s game can help kick start a good run for the side, following on from last Tuesday’s 5-3 win against Leeds United under 23s in the EFL Trophy.
Bowyer hopes that this, the second cup match in a row, has come at a good time for his side to distract them from the disappointing league campaign.
He said: “The cup competitions have come as a little break for us. I think probably a nice little break in the sense it’s a nice little breather from the league.
“Our performances have been good in the league, apart from one or two, but we understand it’s about results and this little break has given the chance for one or two to get back. We’re hoping to welcome bodies back for Monday which we’re really looking forward to now.”
“The message is quite simple on Monday, just to get in the next round.”
Dagenham will provide stiff opposition to Bowyer’s men, Currently 8th in the National League and top scorers in the division, but the Ammies boss knows what to expect in East London.
He revealed: “We’re aware of the challenge that lies ahead. Myself and Billy Barr (Bowyer’s Assistant) went to watch them last Tuesday at Halifax and they’re a good unit, well organised, well coached and have a good coach who I’m surprised is not in the Football League, although he’s heading there with the team he’s creating at Dagenham.
“They are very clear on how they play, got some players that can win games for them, but they’re also a very tight unit and will be dangerous from set pieces.
“We certainly won’t be underestimating the opponent because of the research we’ve done into them and how they are and how they prepare. Our players will be fully aware of that but hopefully we can make sure we get the result to match the performance and get through to the next round.”
Bowyer put out a strong team in the midweek victory over Leeds, and has revealed that he will be putting out his strongest possible team at Victoria Road.
Bowyer said: “We will be playing the strongest team we possibly can, due to the injuries we’ve suffered in the last couple of weeks, hence the team on Tuesday was exactly that.
“We’ll hopefully have a few back, maybe one or two if they can come through training, it gives them a right good opportunity to join back in the squad.
“Being honest, we’ve missed the players we’ve had out and it will be a welcome to have them back in the squad.”
The Ammies boss could be the first to take the club into the third round of the FA Cup, should they come through Monday’s game and then a second round clash in four weeks time.
In recent years, there has been increased talk that the FA Cup is not what it once was, Bowyer though disagrees and says one of his first memories of football was watching the competition back in the 70’s.
He explained: “One of my earliest memories of the FA Cup was sat watching Arsenal beating Manchester United in 1978, 3-2. I probably shouldn’t mention that with the owners had I!
“I would have been seven years old and it was such a special game. You then see the celebrations of everybody and see how it’s so special.
“You know the impact the FA Cup can have on a team and on a club so it’s always been an exciting time for me.”
Bowyer has managed multiple teams in the competition, such as Blackpool and Bradford City, but says his most memorable run in the competition was with Blackburn in the 2014/15 season. The Championship club reached the sixth round after beating higher ranked clubs, Stoke City and Swansea, in the process.
He explained: “At Blackburn we had a fantastic run getting to the quarter finals and taking Liverpool to a replay.
“You saw the impact it had on the club. At the time we were under a transfer embargo so the funds that it generated at that particular time were invaluable to the club.
“So from a business side it was great, but it also galvanised the town at the time, we had a packed 28,000 inside Ewood Park and it was bouncing. It was exciting for the players and exciting for the staff and hopefully on Monday night we can start that for ourselves.”