WHITLEY Bay FC boss Ian Chandler said he welcomes the selection headache he faces ahead of Saturday’s FA Carlsberg Vase clash.
For the first time in around four months the manager has a fully fit squad to choose from.
The Seahorses take on Northern League rivals West Auckland in the fifth round of the competition, in what is expected to be one of the toughest games they have faced since they began their domination of the competition over the last three seasons.
West sit just two points above Whitley in the league and have already beaten them twice this season, but it is the current holders who are favourites going into the Hillheads tie.
Chandler said: “We are happy to go in favourites this weekend, it’s a confidence we have amongst the team.
“And it’s not arrogant or cocky, but if you can’t be confident after what we have achieved in the last three years then there is something not right.
“I have a full squad to pick from for Saturday, it’s the first time in a long time, but I’d rather have too many players to pick from than not enough.
“I will be worrying about what lads will be missing out, but I have got to put out a team that I think can win, and that’s football.”
Whitley were supposed to travel to West Auckland last weekend in a league tie, but the match was postponed due to the weather.
But Chandler doesn’t think that is an important factor.
“We were looking forward to the game, but by midweek we had an idea that it would be called off.
“It didn’t really bother us, it may be a case that we can now go into the game on Saturday and shock them, because we are a different team to the one they played earlier in the season.”
It’s expected to still be very cold at the weekend, but it’s hoped the frost will stay away and the game will go ahead, with a bumper crowd expected.
Chandler said: “It would be great to see around 1,500 there.
“We always get a good home crowd for the Vase and I’m sure West will be bringing a few along too.
“Plus, Newcastle aren’t playing until later on.
“It will be a good day and I’m really looking forward to it.”
The Vase tie comes just days after Whitley Bay FC were recognised by the North East Football Writers’ Association for their success in the FA Carlsberg Vase.
On Sunday night Chandler and Chairman Paul McIlduff accepted a special achievement award at the association’s annual dinner at Ramside Hall.
Chandler said: “It’s great to be recognised for what we have achieved, the award wasn’t for one person, it was for the whole club.
“Like they said on the night, we are known now across the country for what we have achieved in the Vase over the last three years, and that is fantastic.
“It’s always great to receive that recognition.”
Kick-off on Saturday is 3pm and supporters can buy their tickets early from the Seahorse Club or from Beckenham Newsagents.
Tickets will also be available on the day.