SIMON Davies has warned his players that their participation in next week’s big FA Cup clash will be under threat if they fail to perform at Exeter City tomorrow.
The Blues have been handed a testing first round tie against promotion-chasing League One outfit Millwall, who are due at the Deva Stadium a week tomorrow.
It is a game the whole squad wants to be involved in – but only those who meet Davies’ high standards in tomorrow’s League Two fixture at Exeter will be sure of their place in the starting XI.
The City manager said: "Now the lads are playing for an FA Cup place. There’s only one game to go before the big game against Millwall. I’m sure they’ll be up for it again."
Davies’ selection plans for tomorrow’s game have been clouded by injuries picked up by strikers Eddie Johnson and Ryan Lowe in Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over Brentford – City’s first win in nine matches.
Both players are nursing calf and ankle knocks and Davies will not gamble on playing them at St James Park if it means they may have to miss the Millwall match.
"The Millwall game is a big one for us," said Davies.
"If someone’s only 50/50 for this weekend, then it will be tough for them to also be fit for the Millwall game.
"The only blessing is that we don’t have a game during the week, which means there is time for any injured lads to recover."
Davies will also be without the suspended Glenn Rule at Exeter, while Laurence Wilson (calf) and Richie Partridge (groin) will both miss out despite returning to training this week. The duo could both be in contention for the Millwall game.
Exeter were promoted from the Blue Square Premier via the play-offs last season and have adapted well to life back in League Two under the stewardship of manager Paul Tisdale. They are fifth in the table but were stung by a 6-1 home defeat to Chesterfield on Tuesday.
Davies, who had a loan spell with Exeter while he was a player at Manchester United, feels the result came at the wrong time for his team.
"Everyone will say you can go there and beat them now," said the Chester manager.
"Sometimes it’s not always the best kind of result before you go and play a team. They’ll have a lot to think about and it will be a tough encounter."
The Millwall FA Cup tie is not all-ticket for home fans so Blues supporters can pay at the turnstiles. The kick-off time has been moved from 3pm to 1pm on police advice.