TAREE Wildcats hope to be closer to full strength for Thursday night's Coastal Premier League football clash against Southern United at Forster's Boronia Park.
The Wildcats were mauled 10-0 by an impressive Port United side in the round two clash played on a synthetic pitch at Coffs Harbour on Saturday.
"We were down on troops. but it was a bit of a learning curve for the players,'' captain-coach Shannon Hall said.
"I couldn't fault their effort. But we were outplayed for 80 of the 90 minutes. The young blokes now know what is required at this standard of football. I think the team's average age was 20 or 21, so it was a big ask.''
Hall was one of a number of absentees in the game. He was still struggling after playing the previous week on the synthetic surface.
"I'm a bit old for that now,'' he said.
"But we should be close to full strength for Thursday night. Ricky Campbell, Jackson Witts, Kyle Brady and Scott Walker will all be back.''
This will also be the first time the sides have met, with Southern United in their debut season in the CPL.
"They had a good win first up and they had four or five players out last week when they were beaten by Coffs United 4-0,'' Hall said of the Ospreys.
"I imagine they'll be back to full strength as well.''
This will be Southern United's first home game, as the opening round clash against Boambee was switched to the synthetic pitch at Coffs Harbour. Both Taree's matches have been at Coffs Harbour.
"This will be as close as we get to a local derby, so hopefully the boys will lift for the occasion,'' Hall added.
Taree's due to play their first home game of the season against newcomers, Bellingen, on Saturday, April 23.
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