Wagga City Wanderers will field a young side for their opening FFA Cup fixture against Canberra White Eagles at Cootamundra on Saturday.
The Wanderers have been dealt a blow with key off-season signing Joe Preece doing an about-face on his decision to join the club and returning to Riverina Rhinos.
That, as well as the accident which has sidelined Fred Gardner, is hardly the ideal build-up but coach Ross Morgan says the club has a proud record in the competition and their young players are fully aware of that.
"It will be a young team going this weekend, with a few new signings not arriving til the next few weeks," Morgan said.
"The club's had some success in the FFA Cup in the space it's been around and the playing group are taking it seriously. They appreciate what the Cup's about. It could be seen as a pre-season game but that's not the way the boys are approaching it."
Morgan said their pre-season has been stop-start with three trials followed by some cancelled matches. Three weeks out from their first season in the Canberra competition, the White Eagles will be a barometer.
"It's a team we're going to be facing and we don't know too much about the teams we're playing against this year so it will be a good indicator," Morgan said.
Morgan was disappointed in Preece's backflip but said he holds no hard feelings.
He was excited to confirm the return of Ahmed Badawy to the club in time for the FFA Cup opener while Cootamundra's Dylan Berkrey, a foundation player at the Wanderers, is back for a short stint.
Experienced defender Justin Curran is also back in the top grade along with striker Jake Ploenges.
"He's had a solid pre-season and it's good to have him back and firing and hopefully hitting the back of the net for us," Morgan said.
Wanderers Squad v White Eagles: Robert Fry (GK), Prince Thompson, Shaun Moffat, Justin Curran, Dylan Berkrey, Sam Jones, Caylum Barber, Stuey Smeeth, Henri Gardner, Zach Pinney, Jake Ploenges, Logan Flanagan, Kyle Yeates, Jacob Ochieng, Ahmed Badawy.