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FA Vase Final: Kevin Lisbie available for Cray Valley against Chertsey Town at Wembley

Star striker Kevin Lisbie will return for Cray Valley in the FA Vase final at Wembley.

The former Charlton man hasn't played since March, having sat out the Millers' last seven games of the season through injury.

But Lisbie, 40, has been passed fit to face Chertsey under the arch on Sunday.

Canterbury City v Cray Valley PM, The Buildbase FA Vase Semi Final, 2nd Leg , Shepherd Neame Stadium, 23 March2019. ..Photograph by Keith Gillard. (10338205)
Canterbury City v Cray Valley PM, The Buildbase FA Vase Semi Final, 2nd Leg , Shepherd Neame Stadium, 23 March2019. ..Photograph by Keith Gillard. (10338205)

Cray Valley boss Kevin Watson said: "He had an injection in his knee and he’s training fully. He played in an in-house game on Saturday.

"It was a precautionary thing towards the end of the season but he’ll be available for selection.

"I’ve also had some great news about Joe N’Guessan, who’s a massive part of the club and has been for the last 18 months.

"He sustained an injury against Glebe earlier in the season and it’s kept him out for months but the PFA will be able to fund his operation so that’s great news.

"For a player like him, who’s seen the club progress to this final and he can’t take part, as with Chris Edwards who is cup-tied...

"Those boys will be part of it, they will be there on the day and they will stay in the hotel. You try to include as many people as possible because they’ve played a really big role in this season."

Lisbie has played at Wembley before, tasting defeat with Leyton Orient in the 2014 League 1 play-off final.

His Millers team-mate Gavin Tomlin also got there with Southend in the Football League trophy a year earlier so will Watson be using their experience to help prepare his other players for the big occasion?

"We don’t really put that on them," he said. "They do that anyway in their presence which people thrive off and they’ve been doing that all the time. They just need to carry on doing that but they need to concentrate on their own preparations and their own performance.

Gavin Tomlin scored the goal which settled Cray Valley's semi-final against Canterbury Picture: Keith Gillard
Gavin Tomlin scored the goal which settled Cray Valley's semi-final against Canterbury Picture: Keith Gillard

"It’s very difficult to prepare a non-league player, or anybody, to play at Wembley for the first time.

"They’re going to be extremely anxious, they’re going to be nervy, they’re going to be short of breath to start with and however much you tell them to expect all those kind of physical and emotional responses your body gives, when it comes around... Hopefully within a short space of time they’ll realise this is just another game of football."

The final task facing Watson before Sunday's game is to pick his team and break the bad news to some of his players that they won't be involved.

He said: "That’s the worst bit. I struggle with that because I genuinely feel connected to these boys and like these boys personally. I’m going to have to disappoint a couple.

"We’re only allowed five subs which is disappointing news because we did go to the FA and said about seven subs but all four teams - both FA Vase finalists and both FA Trophy finalists - had to agree on the seven subs and only three did. One disagreed so it will only be five subs.

"Some players will not be in the squad but everybody will be involved in the sense that they will all travel, all be in the hotel and all be pitchside.

"If it goes to extra time you may be able to use one more sub, I’m not sure, so maximum 15 players are going to get the opportunity to play and some aren’t.

"That’s something I do struggle with. I’m not very ruthless like that, I’m very conscious of it but I’ll live by my decisions in the best interests of the collective.

"We make those decisions to go and win the game and I will disappoint people but my hands are tied a little bit."

Sunday's game kicks off at 12.15pm.


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