Lee Picton and Graham Fenton are ready to make some of the toughest decisions of their managerial careers at Wembley next weekend.
Picton and Fenton are preparing to take their South Shields players to the national stadium to take on Cleethorpes Town in the final of the FA Vase a week tomorrow.
With all in the Mariners’ squad having played a big role in winning three trophies so far this season, the club’s managerial duo face some unenviable selection dilemmas.
It’s the one aspect of Wembley they have not been looking forward to.
Picton said: “It was difficult for us to pick a team for our other two cup finals and it’s going to be 10 times as difficult in a week’s time.
“Those are the decisions we’ve got to make, though.
“We’ve got to pick a 16, which will be difficult enough, and then we’ve got to pick an 11.
“Yes, it’s going to be really tough, but the fact we’re having to make those decisions is a good thing because we’re in the final and thoroughly looking forward to it.”
Shields will again train at Sunderland AFC’s Academy of Light this afternoon, having also used the facilities there on Thursday.
They will complete their preparations for Wembley this week with a further session at Sunderland on Tuesday, and then one at Newcastle United’s academy on Thursday.
For Picton, the period between last Saturday’s League Cup final win over North Shields and next Sunday’s FA Vase has been crucial to mentally prepare the players.
He added: “We were given a couple of weeks to probably more mentally prepare for it than anything else.
“That’s going to be one of the biggest factors to our success and failure on the day.
“It’s about how well we cope with all the external stuff that’s going on that day, and just focus on executing what we’ve managed to do consistently over the past few months on the pitch.
“If we can do that, we’ve got a great chance.”
Shields are expected to be backed by more than 13,000 supporters at Wembley, but tickets remain available.
The Vase final kicks off at 12.15pm, and those with tickets will also be able to watch the FA Trophy final between York City and Macclesfield Town from 4.15pm.
Tickets can be bought by visiting thefa.com/ticketing and navigating to the Non-League Finals Day section.
Shields will be aiming to add to the Northern League Division One, Durham Challenge Cup and League Cup trophies they have already won this season.