IT'S one of the hardest things about being a football manager but Craig Edwards will have to axe several trialists this week as he looks to trim down his squad ahead of the big kick-off.
With a bulging list of 26 players currently on the books, Billericay Town can only afford to operate with a maximum of 18 when the season starts in a week-and-a-half against Truro City.
One area that's in desperate need of surgery is the strike force where seven – Jay May, Jared Small, Courtney White, Alex Osborn, Tunde Adewunmi, Josh Hutchinson , Emeka Onwubiko – will have to become three or four.
And Edwards wants his first-team settled ahead of The Blues' final pre-season fixture against Leiston this Saturday.
"I'll be honest I didn't expect the decisions we're going to have to make to be this difficult," he told the Gazette. "It's probably the worst thing that any manager has to do is to tell players: 'I'm sorry I'm going to have to let you go'."
"We've seven forwards and we'll need to trim that down. They've all done very well but we're going to have to let at least three go and trim it down to four. That'll all be done this week.
"It's just a case of bringing them in to the office and telling them face-to-face, I haven't had a player that's agreed with me yet when they've been released."
Osborn has played in three pre-season games and is likely to join on a three-month loan deal from Dagenham & Redbridge, having spent the back end of last season on loan at Chelmsford City. Another Daggers player, left-back Duran Reynolds, could also arrive at New Lodge having played in Saturday's 1-0 victory at Lowestoft. Edwards will have a meeting with the npower League Two next week to try and tie up the deals.
Several players are struggling to be fit for Billericay's first-ever game in Blue Square Bet South though: Dave Collis (twisted ankle), Junior Luke (thigh pull), Craig Edwards jnr (shoulder) and Nathan Green (ingrowing toe nail) are facing a race against time, while Onwubiko and White have just returned from long-term injury.
"We've had quite a few little injuries," Edwards said.
"It's nothing like last season when we had serious injuries, these are all niggles but this is the worst time to get them, in pre-season.
"You need all your fitness, especially when you're looking to make decisions on people."
The opening fixture of the season has been cast in to some doubt after it emerged Truro are facing debt claims of up to £700,000. Several players are reported to be upset at not being paid and it is not clear whether or not they will continue to play for the club.
But Edwards says he hasn't affected his preparations.
"I'd take all that with a pinch salt," he said.
"To be fair if it is their reserves that turn up then apparently they gave Tiverton a good game on Saturday so you can't look at it any other way than it's going to be a tough opening day fixture."