It’s a Heavyweight Boxing Day contest

Eastbourne Borough boss Garry Wilson insists his paper-thin squad will raise their game for the hectic festive schedule.

Boro’ welcome high-flying Sussex rivals Crawley Town to Priory Lane on Boxing Day before another tough test at AFC Wimbledon (December 28).

They then travel to Crawley for their second festive clash in quick succession on New Year’s Day before welcoming non-league giants Cambridge United to Priory Lane (January 3).

It’s a tough schedule for any non-league club but Wilson says although his squad is light on numbers, they will be fully prepared and are ready for battle.

He said, “The difference between us and all the clubs we are playing is huge.

“The clubs are set-up differently from top to bottom but we know that. We know the size of the challenge and the players will not need any motivating.

“Crawley are very high-profile at the moment and are receiving a lot of media attention. It means a few more eyes will be on the game but it’s good for Sussex football.”

While Crawley Town boast an embarrassment of riches in their squad, including players like the free-scoring Matt Tubbs, Richard Broadie and former Brighton keeper Michel Kuipers, Wilson has been forced to scratch around in the loan market to boost numbers.

The Boro’ boss can be forgiven for feeling envious at his counter-part’s spending power but Wilson is realistic and will continue to work within the Priory Lane budget.

He added, “Loan signings are not ideal but that is the situation we are in. Clubs like Crawley do not even look at loanees because they have quality all over the pitch.

“It’s tough for long-term team building but with a 16-17 man squad, that’s how we are forced to operate.”

On the plus side popular midfielder Matt Smart is available for selection as is defender Gary Elphick and Bournemouth loanee Mitchell Nelson.

Ross Treleaven remains sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Wilson said, “Other than Ross we are at full-strength. It will be a tough game as Crawley do not have a weakness on the pitch. They start fast and go for teams from the off. We have to be aware of that, compete and stop them from playing.”

Ominously for Boro’, Crawley boss Evans believes there is still room for improvement from his title-chasers and will have his players fired-up come Boxing Day.

Evans said, “We have a whole new team from this time last year and that takes a while to settle down. We are getting there but there is still more to come.

“We have made a good start and are competing well but we will not be taking this game lightly. They have a good side and an excellent manager and we know it will be extremely tough.

“They (Boro’) have been unlucky with loan signings returning but we know they will put out a good side.

Evans added, “Every team we play are up for it. We are there to be shot down but we are dealing with the pressure well and it’s something we have to get used to.”