DUFFERS’ DIARIES: The squad rotation conundrum

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Saturday’s win at home to Ramsbottom was one to test the patience of most at the New Manor Ground.

Ramsbottom are at the foot of the table but possess some good players and were by no means guaranteed to lose Saturday’s game. As it progressed it looked as though Ilkeston would get a goal eventually and in the end three came along at once.

Those are the kind of games that are just as important to win as those against sides higher in the table so the three points are most welcome.

Quite a few fans were disappointed with the side the Robins put out for Monday’s game with Long Eaton in the Derbyshire Senior Cup.

Ilkeston have a good record in that competition and fans had every right to expect they’d make a good go of it again this year, but in the end the side put out didn’t have enough about it to overcome a team from two levels below.

There’s two ways of looking at it. If the coaching staff wanted to rest key players but still pick a side capable of winning the game, they got it wrong. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course, but I did fear when I saw the line-up beforehand that there wasn’t enough experience in there to cope with a tie like that. The fact that academy coach Steve Welsh took the game said a great deal.

The other way of looking at it is that as it stands, Ilkeston are challenging for promotion and saving their best players for league games is the way forward now that the FA Cup and FA Trophy are no longer a distraction.

Had the side put out won on Monday then all well and good. We’d probably have seen a similar line-up in the next round and maybe beyond.

In the end, the fact that another competition won’t congest the fixture schedule might be a blessing, although maybe we’ll be better able to judge that at the end of the season.

After the trip to Rushall on Saturday, Ilkeston host Lincoln United in the League Cup but with the Newcastle FA Youth Cup tie two days later I doubt we’ll see as many of the academy team play as did against Long Eaton. But will there still be the temptation to rest most of the first choice team?

Certainly a conundrum for Andy Watson and his staff to chew the fat over.