Tis: 'We will make a selection based on the best performance, not giving players games'

Exeter City will welcome back Craig Woodman and Pierce Sweeney into their matchday squad for Sunday’s FA Cup tie against Heybridge Swifts.

Woodman has been out for the past two matches having injured himself in the home defeat to Luton Town, while Pierce Sweeney missed the 1-1 draw with Mansfield Town last Saturday having suffered from food poisoning leading up to the match. 

However, manager Paul Tisdale confirmed that both players will be fit for Sunday’s and Lee Holmes – who scored the equaliser off the bench last time out – will be pushing for a starting berth as well.

“We are making progress,” said Tis, when asked how his squad was shaping up. “We have had Craig Woodman back in training this week so he is back in contention and Pierce Sweeney, who was ill for the game against Mansfield, is back. Lee Holmes is still not 100 per cent fit but may well be fit enough to play on Sunday, but we are making progress.”

Tis says it has not entered his mind to rest people for the match against Heybridge, despite their opponents coming from the eighth tier of English football.

“It is the first round of the FA Cup and we want to win it, so we haven’t even spoken about that (resting players) actually,” he said.

“It is a game we want to win and I will make a selection based on providing the best performance but not on giving the players games.”

A number of players have impressed recently in the side’s under-23s matches. However, they have recently come back from a trip to Sunderland on Thursday. So, does that mean they are likely to miss out?

“No, it will give them more chance of playing, the fact that they have played on a day or two ago,” said Tis. “I’m a believer in them playing football not resting, resting and resting for a game some day in the future.

“They have got to play football and they are playing regularly. They’ve played two games recently – Hull away and Sunderland away – and that only gives them a good momentum going into the game on Sunday should they be selected. So, the more football the better. We have got a squad that can take it, even with the injuries, and they are plenty of players who are pushing for selection this week.”

Asked how City go about avoiding a cup shock, Tis added: “Sometimes when you play in these games there are a different set of variables to think about and challenge yourself with and possession doesn’t always win.

“The team that has most passes or most shots at goal, doesn’t always win. It is about the right time, right place and doing the right thing.”

“We are playing against a non-league team who have done very, very well to get to this point. I had achieved that myself in the non-league with Team Bath in 2002. 

"So, I know what it takes to get to this point. They have played seven matches to get to this point. I think they will play more matches than the winners of the FA Cup will this year.

"So, it is an amazing achievement and they won’t want to see their dream and excitement finish this Sunday. They will look to take that to another game or a replay, but we have got to make sure we do the best for us and the best for us is a professional performance, it is not about anything sexy, it is about winning the game.”