HAYES & Yeading United can cope without the best midfielder in Blue Square South when they travel to Newport County this weekend, according to manager Garry Haylock.
Will Hendry scored a spectacular goal on Saturday when he left two players for dead before curling a sumptuous shot into the top corner against Havant & Waterlooville.
That was his fifth goal in eight games but Haylock now has some thinking to do for Newport, the kind of place United need to win if they are to mount a serious promotion bid, because Hendry is suspended after reaching five bookings.
The 21-year-old has been a permanent fixture in the side apart from the opening day of the season and it is no wonder his manager rates him so highly.
"People keep saying others are the best midfielders in the league but I've always maintained he has more ability than any midfielder I've seen at this level," commented Haylock. "But he did the same thing last year when he was on fire until we beat Braintreee and when he came back his form dipped.
"I still think there's more to come from him because he's got the big things right, it's just the little things now.
"The squad we've built has a lot of quality and we can play various different systems and with various personnel so I think we've got enough to cope with the absence of one or two players."
Haylock may opt to replace Hendry with Josh Scott or Ram Marwa and move James Mulley across to left midfield, if he wants to keep the 4-4-1-1 formation that has served him well thus far.
He could also go for two strikers and he at least has an extra body in the squad after signing Ronnie Bull in time to make his debut against Havant. The 27-year-old started at Fulham before making more than 50 appearances for Millwall, where he played alongside Hendry, and since then has turned out for various Conference clubs.
He actually played against United for Fisher Athletic two weeks ago but has now signed on a dual registration basis with Exeter City.
Steven Gregory should be fit for Newport and the club is to get a second opinion on Leon Solomon after a specialist last week ruled him out for another two months whereas United physio Ewen Fairgrieve believes he is ready to make his long-awaited debut.
Meanwhile, United finally got a home tie for a cup match when the draw was made for the FA Carls-berg Trophy Third Qualifying Round, but they could hardly have got a more difficult opponent.
Chelmsford City, who beat United 1-0 on the opening day of the season and now lead Conference South, come to Church Road on November 22.