LEE Clark has ‘thrown down the gauntlet’ to his fringe players ahead of Huddersfield Town’s trip to Swindon Town.
After equalling a Football League record for the longest unbeaten run last weekend, Clark plans to rotate his squad for the FA Cup.
Players including Donal McDermott and Danny Cadamarteri look likely to start after sitting on the bench for the majority of the league campaign.
“I have thrown the gauntlet down to the players that will be coming into the team,” said Clark. “I spoke to the players in question earlier this week and they know that they are playing. It is up to them to now stake a claim and prove to me why they should have a regular starting spot in the League.
“Players who will ultimately play a big part for us throughout the rest of the season need to get some games under their belt to make sure that they are ready for when they are called upon. You can do as much training as you like, but you need to play games to make sure you are ready.”
Clark insists that his team selection will not devalue the FA Cup and is keen to advance to the third round and the possibility of a money-spinning glamour tie against a Premier League club.
“We will make changes and rotate the squad but we will still field a very strong team,” he said. “We treat the game with great importance. The FA Cup is the most prestigious Cup competition in the world and I was brought up sitting with the family and watching Cup games on the television.
“A club should never belittle this competition,” he added. “Ultimately, I don’t think we are going to win the Cup but we have got to give ourselves, like last year, a chance to play one of the big boys and make the town proud of us.”
Swindon Town manager Paolo Di Canio admitted that Town are ‘one of the best teams’ involved in this stage of the competition.
“It might sound strange to say this but they don’t do anything special but they are a special team,” said the Italian, whose own side are unbeaten in eight games.
“I say this because they do simple things but in a perfect time and in a perfect way. We have a good defensive record but they are a different proposition to League Two sides so we have to play with 200 per cent commitment. I want to see my team compete in every area because we can gauge our progress from this game.”