United boss Steven Pressley confirmed that preparations for Friday night’s Emirates FA Cup game against Dulwich Hamlet will very much be conducted as normal as he gets his team ready for what he expects will be a tough game.
“We’re under no illusions as to just how difficult a game it’s going to be,” he said. “Probably one of the reasons why it’s one of the live fixtures is that everybody wants to see cup upsets, and we’ve got to ensure that we don’t fall foul of that.
“These types of games are huge banana skins. If you look at the Dulwich squad you can see that they’re very experienced. They’ve got a lot of league experience in there, so make no mistake this is going to be a very difficult game.”
Speaking about his own experience of being on the wrong side of a cup upset, he told us: “It happened to me when I was at Coventry City and it isn’t an experience I want to endure again.
“The thing I took from that is that you can scout non-league teams as much as you want prior to the game, but they’re a different animal on the day, and especially when it’s live on TV. With Coventry, we went out to Worcester City and it was a real example to me of just how dangerous this cup competition can be.
“You should never ever underestimate any of the oppositions in this competition because they can step up and beat you. Worcester will always serve as a grave reminder to me of what the potential negative for us could be on Friday night.”
On player availability, he commented: “All of the loan players have been given permission to play, which is good news.
“We still have a doubt on Stefan Scougall, that’s one we aren’t going to rush. We’ll take our advice from Dolly on that one.
“Jack Bridge picked up an ankle knock and he didn’t train in the early part of the week, so we’ll see how he goes on as well. We’re waiting for news on Christie Elliott, he saw his specialist on Tuesday, but we have to wait for the results of that to come through.
“Byron Webster is back from suspension and that obviously gives me a big decision to make. The young players did exceptionally well against Macclesfield, so that’s one for me to think about.”
And a fourth goal of the season for Ryan Loft gives the manager food for thought in the striking department with the Leicester loanee now just behind Olufela Olomola and Harry McKirdy in the scoring charts.
“Ryan has been out on loan at a number of clubs and it hasn’t worked out for him,” he said. “He’s probably scored more goals here than he’s made appearances at other clubs, to be perfectly honest.
“That’s a really pleasing thing, and again he goes out on afternoons to work with Gav Skelton and Nathan Rooney, because that’s our duty.
“We want to make these players better, and we had an indifferent period there with Ryan, but we and he stuck at it and he’s come back. One of my gripes of late is that I don’t think our substitutes have impacted the game enough, but he came on and he made a real mark at the weekend.
"That’s exactly what I want, and it’s really important to me. He knows I need more and more from him and that’s why I’ll keep pushing him.”