Hebburn Town boss Scott Oliver expects his big-game players to be able to handle the pressure of tomorrow’s FA Vase clash against City of Liverpool.
The Hornets manager is calling on his squad to show what they are made of in front of an expected record crowd at The Energy Check Ground – and go all the way in the competition.
Half of Hebburn’s starting line-up tomorrow could have experience of winning the Vase at Wembley before, with Michael Richardson, Andrew Stephenson, Lee Kerr, Paul Chow and Louis Storey all having got their hands on the famous trophy previously.
Oliver has now challenged the players to show why they were brought into the club this summer – and prove they still have the hunger for winning silverware.
He said: “It’s all about what happens on the day. We have got a few injuries but there will be no excuses.
“These lads are used to playing in front of big crowds and that’s one of the reasons why they have come here, one of the reasons why we brought them here.
“We’be brought them here to perform at a level they have produced at before.
“They’ve done it before and they have to do it again. Have they got the hunger?”
After a huge summer makeover which saw Oliver dismantle the side which won promotion from Division Two and assemble a squad filled with some of the best Northern League players around, there was inevitably going to be some time needed for the team to gel.
Hebburn remain joint-top of Division One and have lost just twice in the league, although there most recent setback came last weekend when they were hammered 4-1 by Whitley Bay.
Consistency is still eluding them, but Oliver believes there is so much more to come from his side.
And he says the ‘gloves are off’ with the big-name players in his ranks.
“It’s all set up,” he added. “We just need to make sure we turn up.
“I’m really struggling to get my head around some of the mistakes we are making as individuals and as a team. For some players who have played at such a good level and won so much, their game management at times is baffling.
“The Whitley Bay game was tough. Each team brings their own challenges and strengths and we didn’t react to theirs.
“We need a performance tomorrow like we put in during the two previous games against Newcastle Benfield and West Auckland, when we were very good.
“If we get what we got against Whitley, where three out of 11 players probably performing to the levels I expect, then we will be in trouble. We need, eight, nine, 10 performing tomorrow.
“We have taken this group so far very quickly but we need to keep going. It’s my job to get them into some sort of shape.
“There’s a lot more challenges and expectation. There’s a lot of lads here now who treat it more like a job, which I’m getting used to.
“If I’m being honest, I’ve never managed players who are so much better than I was as a player – I’ve always managed lads who were around my level.
“It took a bit of getting used to in the dressing room at first – but the gloves are off now.
“I’m in charge of them and if they don’t perform then I’ll be letting them know.”
City of Liverpool could bring around 300 fans which would swell the attendance to over the four-figure mark.
The Hallmark Security League Premier Division side are unbeaten in the league this season, winning 10 and drawing twice in their 12 games, with their only defeat coming in the FA Cup against Chester.
Hebburn have doubts over Dan Groves and Luke Sullivan (groin injuries) and Stephenson (knee).
Kick-off tomorrow is 3pm and the game is all-ticket.