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U21's: Will anybody get a run-out against Eastleigh?

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Tom Molloy discusses issues of cup-tying and blooding youngsters

The saviour
The saviour
Pete Norton/Getty Images

Saturday's FA Cup 3rd round tie against Eastleigh is the definition of a banana skin. Let's face it. Lowest ranked team in the competition against the worst run club in the country, add in a transfer embargo and a fire sale and it's hard to pinpoint how our line-up will look.

I'm of the opinion that Neil Lennon won't be allowed to play any of our sellable assets  as to not cup-tie them. I feel like the decision won't be his to make and could cause somewhat of a fallout within the club. But what does this mean?

Well, judging by the wage bill that'd rule out Medo (lol), Ben Amos, David Wheater, Jay Spearing and Mark Davies. Then you have youngsters like Josh Vela and Zach Clough and finally players who've just been linked with a move away; Dean Moxey, Dorian Dervite and Liam Trotter.

That's seven plays who regularly make the matchday squad. Now of course this is all theoretical but could this sort of restriction on player selections actually be a blessing in disguise?

Bolton Wanderers U21's themselves have been inconsistent in recent weeks and I don't for one second advocate playing a full reserve team but there are still a few stand-out performers who may feel like they could offer something against Eastleigh.

Goalkeepers

I don't think there'll be much change here. I don't even think Paul Rachubka will make an appearance as I don't think anybody is going to take Amos off our hands at the moment. In reserve there's young Harry Campbell but considering he's usually understudy to Ross Fitzsimons (who's been loaned out to a team in a league below Eastleigh), it would seem mental to play him.

Defenders

Rob Holding has been one of the main success stories of the season, I actually wouldn't mind to see him starting in his natural position of centre back in this game, partnering Prince or even Derik (another who seems to have completely fell off the face of the Earth).

This would - to be fair - be harsh on Alex Finney and Quade Taylor both who've made their first team debuts in the last 12 months and I wouldn't mind seeing either of them on the bench.

I think full-back will have somewhat of a continental feel with Francesco Pisano at right-back and Jose Manuel Casado at left-back. Pisano has been linked with a move back to his native Italy but this wouldn't affect an international transfer.

Or alternatively, Lennon won't even trust his recent signing against a Conference team and Holding will play right-back with one of Finney and Taylor getting their chance in the middle.

Midfield

Not much going on here in the middle, unless you count Filip Twardzik.

Oscar Threlkeld has put in some stellar performances in the centre of midfield on loan at Plymouth Argyle but his loan's been extended which rules that out.

Hopefully Tom Walker will get a run out on the left as he offers some natural width and can put a great cross in. Other than that, I think this is a game for Neil Danns.

I wouldn't be averse to seeing Kaiyne Woolery out wide but back to him in a moment.

Strikers

It's expected that Shola Ameobi will start this game but honestly what's the point? He'll be gone at the end of this month.

Kaiyne Woolery was actually signed from the Conference so he obviously looked dangerous against teams of Eastleigh's level. For the U21's he's usually a class above with his directness and pace causing problems against most teams. I think of everyone, he deserves a crack.

Then you've got Jamie Thomas, needs to work on his overall game but it's hard to argue with his goal tally for the season, especially as it's his first at this level.

Alex Samizadeh's been somewhat of a revelation, an unknown quantity before this season, he's gone on to score an incredible 14 goals (his nearest competition has 5). This saw him promoted to the U21's where he's got 3, making him the third top scorer behind Thomas and Woolery. I definitely think Samizadeh has something to offer but I don't think he'll be involved as he's dropped off the radar in recent weeks.

Then finally there's Tom Eaves (stop laughing). Who's actually 23. He scored a real life goal this week and in an interview with somebody on my Journalism course he said he's targeting 15 goals for the season. Not sure whether his long injury lay-off has made him confuse FIFA with real life but you've got to admire his confidence. Also Lennon wackily brought him on as a substitute in an actual Championship game last season when we were chasing an equaliser against Watford. Amazing.

(NB: This article was written before Lennon said he'd be playing a full-strength team, I still feel as if there'll be youngsters at least on the bench and I still don't think he'll be allowed to play anybody we've already received a bid for.)