AFC Fylde boss Dave Challinor says whoever steps up to plug gaps in his team tonight should seize their chance at Boreham Wood and write their name into the history books.
READ MORE: Play-offs wide open says Fylde manager
After Ebbsfleet United won the first National League play-off eliminator at Aldershot last night, Boreham Wood and the Coasters contest the second in Hertfordshire from 7pm.
Injured attacker Serhat Tasdemir, who is nicknamed Tugay after the former Blackburn Rovers favourite, and suspended full-back Luke Burke will definitely miss tonight’s make-or-break match, with central defender Jordan Tunnicliffe also a doubt after coming off in the first half of Saturday’s goalless draw at Wrexham.
That leaves Challinor with potentially three shirts to fill, though he says this will be a good test for whoever steps in.
The manager believes these huge games are a chance to see who can cut it at a higher level as Fylde bid to reach the Football League for the first time in their history.
Challinor said: “We lost young Tugay with a foot injury. Hopefully he will be OK. He sees a specialist and hopefully he will be fine recovering through the summer and we will get him back for the start of next season.
“But I think he would have been really important in these games because of his inexperience and freedom. He just goes and plays, and he does not have any bad experiences.
“He would have been a big one for us. We lost Burkey on Saturday (to two yellow cards) and Tunny comes off injured. Fingers crossed he is OK but we have got three potential spaces there.
“If you are carrying a small squad it is difficult, but players will get opportunities and these are great games to come into.
“They are pretty stressful games to come into as well but ultimately that is where you want to test yourself.
“These environments are unique but the good players, and the ones who are going to progress and play at a higher level, are the ones who thrive in that environment. They absorb the tension and put in good experiences.”
Challinor was not best pleased with the manner in which on-loan Wigan full-back Burke, 19, got himself sent off on the final day of the regular campaign.
He added: “Luke Burke will miss Thursday’s game – stupidity really. He asked why the first free-kick was given and was booked for that. As a defender, speaking from experience, you don’t want to leave yourself on a tightrope.
“He will pay the price for that by not being involved in what is a massive game for us.
“Somebody else will have an opportunity and that is why you have a squad of 20 strong players.
“Hopefully someone steps in, does a good job and ultimately can aim to keep their place on Sunday if they help us to progress.”
Sunday is when the winners of tonight’s match will visit Sutton United in the semi-finals.
Saturday’s first semi will be between Tranmere and Ebbsfleet, who defeated Aldershot on penalties last night. Hosts Aldershot led until the last minute of extra-time, when Dave Winfield equalised and the Kent club then won the shoot-out 5-4.
Tonight’s tie will be televised live on BT Sport.
Any remaining seats on the free supporters’ coach to Boreham Wood can be booked this morning at Mill Farm on 01772 598855.