Michael Hunter now has genuine competition for the Horsham goalkeeper’s jersey following the signing of Kieron Thorp.
Thorp joined from near-neighbours Crawley Down Gatwick on New Year’s Day as cover for Hunter while he was away for the festive period.
Hunter, who has been Horsham’s first-choice stopper since joining two years ago, did not end up missing any games with Horsham’s schedule completely washed out and both goalkeepers are in contention for a starting berth in this Saturday’s league match away at Walton & Hersham.
“Hunts has been first-choice at the club for a long time now and I think a great deal of him, he’s a fantastic goalkeeper,” player/manager Gary Charman said of Hunter, last season’s Supporters’ Player of the Year.
“But we’ve brought in another great goalkeeper and the two are battling it out, I’ve not yet decided which one I’ll pick to start on Saturday.
And he added: “Michael Hunter hasn’t ever had competition for his place. There’s competition everywhere else in the squad, I have five centre halves and five centre midfielders so it can only be a good thing and both realise the situation. Both have been training really well with (goalkeeper coach) Rob (Frankland).”
Charman is the only real doubt for the weekend with a persistent knee problem continuing to trouble him. “One minute it feels fine and the next it locks up and I can’t move it. At the moment I feel like I can run a marathon so I’ll definitely be in the squad,” he said.
Horsham have seen their last six matches postponed with the continued bad weather completely wrecking their Christmas and early New Year schedule.
Charman is adamant Saturday’s match will go ahead despite flood warnings issued for the Walton area with the Thames close to record levels.
And the Hornets boss is in confident mood ahead of what he hopes will be their first game for nearly a month.
He said: “We’ve been training really well Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays all over Christmas and the New Year. Everybody’s been there and the players’ attitudes have been spot on, it’s probably the best I’ve seen it because everybody knows they are fighting for their places with such a large squad.
“The game will be on I’m sure of that, and after this one we don’t have a game until the following Saturday. But then the next 18 games or so will be Saturday to Tuesday so we’re set for a busy few months.
“But that’s what we have a squad for and we’re all looking forward to it, it’s just about getting the balance right and using the players at the right times.”
Walton & Hersham sit 15th in the Ryman South table, three points and four places above the Hornets, and have not played since their 4-0 home defeat to Sittingbourne on December 28.
After a disappointing first half of the season, mainly under former manager Simon Colbran’s charge, Charman is targeting a strong finish.
“Of course it’s disappointing that, after winning two games in a row we’ve had all these games off but on Saturday we’ll still be going for our third straight win,” he said.
“The 26 points we got from our first half of the season is not good enough and I’ve set a target in mind of what I want to achieve. I’ve not told the players what that is, but told them that if we win more than we lose we’ll end up in the top half of the table.”
Meanwhile Steve Sargent has left the club.