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Livewire Harris could be out for two weeks

GISBORNE United will be without livewire striker Josh Harris for a Pacific Premiership football game against Napier Marist Seconds at Harry Barker Reserve tomorrow.

A groin injury could keep Harris out of action for two weeks, player-coach Kieran Venema said.

“We're hoping he'll be right for some of the crunch games later.

“Everyone else is all right. We had a good training session on Tuesday. We do a fitness session for half an hour every Tuesday and then get into a bit of ball work, shooting and small-sided games.

“On Thursdays we're more into game-planning for the weekend.

“We try to use a half-field for attack-versus-defence stuff, and we work on whatever needs working on. It might be defensive shape, or attacking play. In other weeks it will be about players getting themselves on the ball . . . possession games where we try to get people to be comfortable on the ball while they have an opponent close by.”

He said the players had bought into the idea of increasing the team's use of a shorter-passing game.

“I am looking for players to offer three options for every ball, and if they're not going to get the ball with the next pass I want them thinking about where they can be to get the one after that.”

A short-passing game need not exclude a counter-attacking strategy, Venema said.

“The fast counter-attack is probably our main strength this year.

“This week might be a little different because Josh Harris won't be on the field, but we still have Josh Adams and Sam Royston with a lot of pace.”

Venema said he still had to make a couple of decisions in relation to team make-up for tomorrow's game.

“I'm still thinking about whether to play one or two holding midfielders.”

Lately he and Dane Thompson had filled the holding midfield space, with Corey Adams roaming the area between them and the attackers.

With Harris injured, Venema was considering the possibility of using Thompson as a target man up front, with Josh Adams ranging wide on the left.

This would allow the ball to be played in to the target man for him to lay off to Corey Adams coming through from midfield, or to Josh Adams or Royston cutting in from the wings.

Napier Marist Seconds are in sixth place in the eight-team premiership, with five points from eight games.

United are second, with 19 points from seven, and have a game in hand on front-runners Maycenvale, who are two points ahead.

Marist could bolster their squad with first-team players, as Federation League games are not being played this weekend, but United would still be favourites.

They won't be taking anything for granted, though, and will look for early goals to settle things.

Kick-off is at 2.30pm.

ROAMING ROLE: Gisborne United's Corey Adams has two Havelock North players to contend with. Adams will play his roaming role between the midifield and attack when United host Napier Marist Seconds in a Pacific Premiership game at Harry Barker Reserve tomorrow. United, unbeaten in the league this season, are sitting second on the table, two points behind Maycenvale but with a game in hand. Picture by Paul Rickard