League is main focus for Dereham Town

Dereham Town manager Matt Henman admits the league takes priority over his side's Norfolk Senior Cup fourth round replay against Norwich City Under-21s tonight.

The Magpies had requested that Saturday's league game against Ely be postponed after the rearranged replay date was announced. That was denied, and Henman will not risk some key players just two days ahead of the league game: 'We'll be playing a different side with some young players,' he said. 'Saturday has to be the priority and we don't want to take any risks.

'It will still be a strong side and we'll be looking to compete, but we have five league games in 14 days coming up.

'It's a shame because we would have liked to put out our strongest side, but hopefully we can still win the game.'

After Saturday's trip to Ely, Dereham have home games against Norwich United and Kirkley & Pakefield, before visiting Gorleston on New Year's Day. The jam-packed fortnight is completed with a home game against Thetford on Saturday, January 5.

Henman said: 'At other times of the season five league games could take you the best part of a month and a half to complete, so it is a really important part of the season.

'If we can make sure we pick up somewhere between 10 and 15 points we will have had a really good run and that would put us in a strong position.

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'We've got a history of having a bit of a poor spell in the new year, but it is a completely different situation now with the strength in depth in our squad. We have also made sure players have not been over-played and that has paid off with the fact that we have a pretty clean bill of health at the moment. We have a strong squad and we will use all of it.'

Jay Eastoe-Smith (ankle) is the only injury worry for the Magpies, but his absence is offset by the return to fitness of fellow defender Michael Sommerfield.

Tonight's game will be played at the Football Development Centre in Bowthorpe, starting at 7.45pm.

The sides drew 1-1 in the first game at Aldiss Park.