Since coming back into the building himself earlier this week, first team manager Neil Cox’s focus has been preparing the players he has available to him for the Emirates FA Cup first round tie against Solihull Moors this Sunday.

With a large number of players still finishing off their isolation period, it will be a race against time and a battle against fitness as he makes his selection ahead of the tie against the National League side.

Speaking prior to the game, he told iFollow Iron: “The players that are back in the building are okay, though they’re a little bit lacking in fitness and sharpness.

“The rest of the boys that I need in the building are in either Saturday or Sunday morning, so we can’t do some of the organising until then. It’s very hard. It’s the not knowing - who is going to come in raring to go? My problem is: who is going to come in able to go?

“We just have to wait and patient and see how the players are when they come in. I’ve got to have a chat with the boys I’ve not seen for two-and-a-bit weeks and see how they are in themselves. I’ve kept in touch with them via Zoom and telephone calls.”

The isolation period of either 10 or 14 days has also meant a lack of training during that time period. With only a limited number of bodies in the building at the latter part of the week, Cox is hoping his squad is boosted in the run-up to matchday.

“None of them have been allowed out,” he continued. 

“We’ve given them little bits to do in their house, but it’s been really difficult as a few of them have had to isolate in their rooms and couple of the boys are living together. I have to be mindful that we’ve got a lot of league games coming up and the league performances need to improve.”

United have been paired with a team from the division below, but there are just eight places between the two sides going into the match.

“This is the FA Cup and we’re here to win games. We are probably the underdogs for this tie with what has been going on,” he stated.

“We’re coming up against a Solihull Moors side who are really good. They will pass the ball well and make it really difficult for us. They’ve changed a lot since last year and now they try and play through the thirds. It’s going to be a challenge for us.

“They’ve got a lot of experience in their side. We have to make sure we are organised and as fit as possible. I will go with the boys who I think can last the game, because there could be extra time as well and we have to me wary that we have some boys who won’t be able to get through it.”

See much more from first team manager Neil Cox on iFollow Iron. Click here to buy a £10 match pass for Sunday's game against Solihull Moors.

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