BASINGSTOKE and Mid Hants will look to maintain their position at the top of British Athletics League National Division Two when they travel to Derby for the penultimate match of the season on Saturday.
The Down Grange club won the opening match of the season on their home track before finishing as runners-up at the second meeting in Southampton.
As a result, they sit top of the table on 15 points, level on points with second-placed Southampton but ahead on points accumulated in the two matches so far.
However, this Saturday's trip will see the team forced to leave Hampshire for the first time, while they will be without some important athletes.
Decathlete Ben Hazell is away representing Great Britain at the European Combined Events Challenge, while in-form 400m hurdler Matthew Lavoipierre is unavailable and several middle distance runners are struggling with niggling injuries.
Team manager Ian Byett said: “We will not be as strong as we have been at the previous two matches, but we will pick the strongest team we can and see where we end up.
“We should be okay in the field events and when it comes to the sprints, but we could be a bit thin in the middle distance events due to some injuries. That is where we have been struggling a bit anyway though, so hopefully it won't cost us too much.”
The good news is that multi-eventers Sam Sleap, Rob Kite and Adam Akehurst are available to help fill the void created by Hazell in the field events, while Basingstoke should also remain strong when it comes to the sprints.
Brothers Kieran and Dean Showler-Davis will run in the 100m and 200m, while Andy Blow will contest the 110m hurdles. Young prospect Owen Richardson will travel with the team to take part in the relays, but will not run in his main event, the 400m, with the English Schools Championships just a week away.
Byett said: “It is going to be tough but hopefully the guys can do the business again and cover over the cracks in the middle distance events.
“I imagine that Derby and Notts will be able to raise stronger teams for this match. I expect them to put up a good challenge, but we can still put ourselves in a great position and there is a chance that some of the injuries will clear up, because they are not season-threatening.”