Lincoln City are facing a goalkeeping crisis ahead of their FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round replay against Alfreton Town on Tuesday night.
Jo Anyon was sent off during the Imps’ 1-1 draw at the Impact Arena on Saturday, meaning youngster Nick Draper had to put on the gloves for 50 minutes.
Anyon has been hit with a three-match ban, but Draper is battling illness as well, leaving new manager David Holdsworth well at the deep end.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of Tuesday’s clash at home, Holdsworth said: “Jo felt he let his team and his new manager down.
“He’s apologised for it, which is all you can ask from a player. He’ll be dealt with, punishment-wise, privately, in-house.
“But it’s caused me a rather big headache.
“At the moment we haven’t got a goalkeeper, which is not good for my first home game. Draper’s being assessed by a doctor. He’s full up with pills and we’re trying to make sure he’s ok.
“I will be having a discussion about the situation. I have spoken to the officials from Saturday, and I’m going to appeal to the nature of the code of what the competition is all about.
“It demeans the competition if I have to put an outfield player in goal. I hope that isn’t the case and they will allow us some dispensation. I don’t want any favouritism, all I ask for is fairness.”
On the positive side, skipper and long-time injury absentee Josh Gowling made the bench on Saturday, and Holdsworth admitted his presence was necessary to improve the players’ commitment.
“I wanted Josh to be part of the squad because he’s club captain,” Holdsworth added.
“It was interesting to see what Josh’s input would be being on the bench. I didn’t want to play him because it would not have been right.
“But I wanted to see what his management skills regarding the other players were like.
“It’s important when you’re captain of a club to show encouragement and be seen. And how do I know? Because I’ve been captain at every football club I’ve played for.
“I know the right type of mentality that is needed from the skipper of a football club.”
Saturday’s draw may well have been a lucky escape for City, but even as Holdsworth expressed his pleasure at the players’ determination against the odds, he did not mince words about the lack of discipline in some areas.
“I don’t wish to be rude about anyone that was here before and I won’t be, (but) the players have become lazy. That might sound a bit harsh but laziness is something in your mindset.
“If you take the easy option all the time, you end up showing yourself as the easy-going person and I think that some players have let themselves down as people.
“They must change their texture of their lifestyles, regarding discipline off the pitch and code of conduct.
“I’ve noticed some disciplines inside the club that I’m very unhappy with. We must change that.
“Do I think they can? Yes, if they want to, if they really fancy a fight.”
Following Sunday’s FA Cup draw held at Wembley Stadium, Carlisle United have been drawn to face either City or Alfreton in the first round proper.