If there’s one thing players are keen to get hold of during the first phases of pre-season it’s a football. The first days after reporting back are packed full of bleep tests, runs, exercise routines and weight watching – so the Fleet squad will be keen to kick their first footballs in (friendly) anger in the opening summer fixture.
And there could be one familiar and one not-so-familiar face on show in red as Jack Connors is likely to play a part as he’s been training with the squad, alongside a player Daryl McMahon is running the rule over.
“Jack’s not sorted anything out with a new club yet,” the Fleet boss told eufc.co.uk. “He’s had a couple of offers up north and elsewhere that haven’t suited practically or geographically. He’s training with us for now and should be involved on Saturday in some way.”
Also likely to feature is former West Ham youth midfielder Freddy Moncur. The 21-year-old, son of former Spurs and Hammers star John Moncur, played in League Two during a spell with Leyton Orient, spent time on loan at Bishop’s Stortford and ended last season with Wingate & Finchley.
“Freddy came in to the reckoning at the tail end of last season and we’re looking at him in this pre-season period too,” McMahon said. “He’ll likely get some minutes against Billericay and we’ll see how it goes this month.”
Darren McQueen is back in full training and eager to see how he will cope post-injury though the first workout in such high-noon heat is not likely to prove too taxing with neither manager expecting to place much emphasis on the result this early into summer. Nonetheless, McMahon is hoping plenty of Fleet fans turn up to catch sight of his new signings and that their mind isn’t on the World Cup entirely!
“Hopefully the England game won’t overshadow this friendly too much!” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of game alerts and kick-off changes pop up yesterday on social media as clubs frantically move fixtures around to make sure they get some people through the gates to watch them!
“It’s the right thing to do [to move the kick-off]. Obviously, me being Irish, I’d have quite happily kicked off at 3pm! Seriously, though, I think it will be a great game for England and a massive opportunity to get to the semi-final and with our game before it, it’s a football treat for the supporters.”
Billericay arrive as Bostik League champions with a trimmed-down squad. Gone are Billy Bricknell, Rob Swaine, Matt Paine and others, with manager Harry Wheeler targeting a 19-man squad to kick-off only their second National South campaign of the last 15 years. He currently has 18 players signed, with former Fleet loanee Jake Howells and ex-Dover and Bromley striker Moses Emmanuel the latest through the door. Emmanuel, of course, was a real livewire on his previous visit to the Kuflink Stadium while on loan at Maidenhead last March.
Fleet fans will be keen to see Sam Deering on his former home soil once more, the midfield playmaker’s previous appearance having been his match-winning performance for us against Chelmsford City in the 2017 promotion final.
Adam Cunnington is another familiar face in the Blues side and likely to partner 50-goal hitman Jake Robinson. At the other end of the pitch, goalkeeper Alan Julian remains and former Maidenhead central defender Dean Inman is joined by new signings Joe Ellul, returning to the club for his third spell; Callum Kennedy from AFC Wimbledon; Joe Kizza and Tambeson Eyong. Other new boys potentially on show include Rickie Hayles (Dulwich Hamlet), Connor Hunte (ex-England youth and Wolves) and Simon Walton (Sutton United).
Fleet will board the plane to their Portugal training base following Saturday’s game… though will be hanging around long enough to watch England take on Sweden in the World Cup quarter-final. And Fleet and Billericay fans are welcome to watch the match either in our Sponsors’ Lounge (limited to capacity of 200 on a first-come, first served basis) or in the Social Club bar behind the Plough End.
A 24-page programme will be on sale for tomorrow’s game at the reduced price of £2.
The match kicks off at the rescheduled time of 12.30pm. Ebbsfleet International Car Park C is not open for this game but will be for our remaining friendlies. Fans are politely reminded to park respectfully around residential areas and to avoid Thames Way by the roundabout as the area is a designated Clearway and ticketing is enforced.