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Underwood says FA Cup will take on extra significance for cash-strapped clubs this season

Jon Underwood says the FA Cup will take on added significance for non-league clubs this season, as they seek to claw back money that's been lost to the COVID-19 crisis.

The Rebels’ joint boss is hopeful a good cup run could go some way to recouping some of the revenue the club has missed out on during the pandemic, as well as the outlay on COVID-19 tests ahead of last month’s play-off defeat to Dartford.

The new season will kick-off with an FA Cup second qualifying round match on October 3, and Underwood admits he and Neil Baker will be under extra pressure to get the campaign off to a winning start.

He also hopes the recent experience of training and preparing for the play-off game against Dartford – a game they lost 3-0 – will stand them in good stead to do just that.

Slough have had an excellent record in the FA Cup in recent seasons, reaching the second round proper in two of the last three campaigns.

“Our first game back is an FA Cup match,” said Underwood. “The cup probably takes on bigger significance than normal because of the financial side of it and all clubs will need a bit of extra money at the minute. So yeah, we’re going to come back into a high pressure game.

“I guess it’s no different to what we had in the play-offs, coming straight back into a game that is really important for the club. It obviously didn’t work out for us in the play-offs, but we’ve had that experience of coming in fresh. We will this time get some friendlies to help with that.”

The club has managed to keep the nucleus of last season’s squad together, and this week added the signature of attacking midfielder Jack McKnight. A number of players have also moved on, including the dependable left-back George Wells, but – while Underwood accepts further strengthening is required – he says they’re in no rush to make new signings and will bide their time to ensure they bring in the right characters.

“We’ve recently announced 13 players from last year who have agreed to come back which is great,” he said.

“Some have moved on which is pretty normal for this time of the season.

“So yeah we’re looking about, we won’t carry a huge squad.

“We’re certainly looking at another four we’d like to bring in. We’ve got some people in mind. There are a lot of players around at the moment, we’ve got a lot of agents calling us and a lot of players who have been contacting us.

“So, I think with so long to go still, two months until we start, what we don’t want to do is rush anything if we’re not 100 per cent sure.

“We’re weighing up and we’ve got one or two further down the line that we’re pretty sure we’d like to get in if we can and then we’ve got other positions in the squad that we’re going to look at some trialists and see where we are in the coming weeks before we look to tie anything up.”

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