Defending premiers Henwood Park will look to unleash returning striker Jake Ploenges off the bench when the Hawks clash with Tolland on Saturday night.
Ploenges’ season has been riddled with injuries since sustaining ankle damage during the Hawk’s FA Cup campaign but the 22-year-old is set to don the red and blue strip again this weekend.
“I had a bit of a run around on Tuesday and it’s feeling back to normal,” he said.
“Hopefully I’ll be coming on during the first half, maybe about halfway through.”
Ploenges sat for two weeks on the sidelines after his FA Cup injury and made an ill-fated return against Junee last month, tearing his hamstring early in the Hawk’s 5-0 win.
“I reckon I played for about 20 seconds against Junee before getting injured,” he said.
Henwood Park will hope their key scoring target can remain unscathed in what as shapes a likely semi-final preview between the Hawks and the Wolves and Ploenges is keen to see his side climb the ladder.
“It hasn’t been the best start for us, especially after having such a good run in the FA Cup,” he said.
“Coming into the local competition and not going as well was a bit disappointing … so this game is very big for us.”
Tolland coach Daniel Lawrence is conscious of the threat posed by Ploenges in attack and has paired captain Richard Skidmore with new recruit Jack Follows as defensive insurance.
“We don’t have a real game plan for Jake (Ploenges) but Richard and Jack are quality defenders,” Lawrence said.
“Last game against Junee was the first time they both played around centre defence and we ended up keeping a clean sheet against them.”
Follows has impressed his team mates since joining the pack and will shore up the Wolves’ back line.
“Jack’s come in showing a bit of leadership and I think he’s really good for our back line,” Lawrence said.
“We were pretty disappointed to leak so many goals against Lake Albert and Tumut earlier in the season and we want to be a tighter unit.
“Sure, we’ve been scoring plenty of goals ourselves but we don’t want other teams thinking they’re a chance of scoring goals against us.
“We definitely don’t want to be known as a team that leaks goals.”
The Wolves are six points clear of third-placed Henwood Park on the ladder and Lawrence is eager to stretch the margin.
“We’ve really talked about this weekend in training and we’re approaching it as a ‘six point’ game,” he said.
“If we can get a win over them, it will create a bit more of a gap between us but if they get up they’ll be closing in on us. It’s shaping up to be a good game.”
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