FA Cup giant-killers Sutton United have question marks regarding the fitness of experienced defender Dean Beckwith and key striker Max Biamou ahead of their fifth-round glamour tie against Arsenal on Monday night (20 February), manager Paul Doswell has confirmed.
The fifth-tier outfit host illustrious Premier League opposition on their 3G artificial pitch at the sold-out 5,013-capacity Borough Sports Ground hoping to defy gargantuan odds and produce another sizable upset having already dispatched the likes of AFC Wimbledon and Leeds United.
"We had nine out for [a 2-1 National League defeat at] Guiseley, two of those primarily because they were on nine bookings," Doswell told reporters at his pre-match press conference. "We even had to play Simon Downer in the end on Tuesday. We were that short, we risked Simon.
"Dean Beckwith, who would have played against Leeds, did his hamstring against Worthing on the Tuesday. Dean's close to being fit and, from what I saw of it today, he worked well. Max Biamou is probably our best striker, who we'd like to be available. He's having an injection in the ball of his foot today. Dean's a doubt, Max is a bigger doubt."
Ex-Preston North End and Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Jeffrey Monakana, who progressed through the youth system at Arsenal before leaving in 2014, will definitely be absent against his former employers. However, Ghanaian forward Bradley Hudson-Odoi has not given up hope of playing some part against an Arsene Wenger side still reeling from their predictable Champions League shellacking in Munich.
"Jeffrey Monakana's out for definite with a hamstring," Doswell said. "Bradley Hudson-Odoi is almost certainly out with a calf. Did you see him run with a limp and he's trying to tell me he's fit? I don't blame him because it's the biggest game you'll ever want to be involved in. I didn't see much of it today, but Bradley says he feels sharp."
When asked how much of a headache those selection issues had caused, Doswell added: "It's been a real headache in the last month. We thought the Leeds game would be the biggest game in the players' careers. So we had players there on nine bookings and four bookings. Again, it's a major issue of mine. The Premier League will play 38 games and we've got to play 46 plus all these cup rounds to get to it.
"We're playing nearly 60 games but we get the same booking situation as anybody else. It doesn't seem quite right to me. We've totally had to look at all the players and it's been a detriment to our league form. I think we were ninth when we started the run and we're 17th now. If the run does end, the one positive of that for us is that we will very quickly look at how we can get back to where we want to be in the league. Because we can't go down, that would be a disaster."