Herring aid for Ian

By Wendy Gee -

IAN Herring's return from injury gives Eastleigh manager Ian Baird an extra, experienced option for tomorrow's Blue Square Bet South assignment at Eastbourne Borough.

The 27-year-old former Swindon, Salisbury and Northwich Victoria midfielder, nicknamed 'Spud', went on for the last 12 minutes of the Spitfires' 3-1 FA Cup win over Cinderford Town last weekend.

It was his first appearance of 2011/12 after his offer to help the Spitfires out backfired on him during pre-season.

"Spud hadn't got himself fixed up with a club during the summer and asked to come in and be part of it even though he was not being paid," said Eastleigh manager Ian Baird.

"He started the friendly against Reading but ended up breaking a foot and leaving the ground on crutches.

"He was involved for the last ten minutes or so last Saturday and he's still not being paid a penny. He's doing it for nothing.

"But whether he'll continue doing it for nothing I don't know. I'll have to speak to him.

"A player like Spud is very valuable to the squad.

"He's been around the block, he's very vocal on the pitch and loud in the changing room.

"A club needs these kind of people."

Although Baird has a "a small amount of money" available for squad building, he would ideally like to spend it on strengthening the left-back slot freeing up Andy Forbes to play elsewhere.

For once, he has no injury concerns going into the Eastbourne game, but exciting teenage strike prospect Sam Wilson is otherwise engaged playing a trial match for Premier League outfit Fulham.

Yet again Baird expects a tough match against an Eastbourne side who are sitting ninth in the table following relegation from the Conference National.

"You've only got to look at the players they've kept hold of since coming down from the Conference," said Baird.

"In fact I'm surprised they're not a bit higher than they are.

"I speak to their manager Garry Wilson quite often and I know they found it hard in the Conference last year what with the travelling and not being full time, but they'll be desperate to get back up.

"Apart from getting into the Conference, they've had the same sort of fairytale rise up the leagues as Eastleigh, but the difference is that they can always draw on a big gate which gives them a bit more in the money stakes."

As if to prove Baird's point, Eastbourne have pulled off a transfer coup by signing south American midfielder Agustin Battipiedi, a 22-year-old midfielder who made eight first team appearances under Gus Poyet at Brighton.

Wilson scooped for the Argentine after a trial at League One Leyton Orient.

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