Key players to miss World Cup Final

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Preparations for this weekend’s JMU Journalism World Cup Final showdown have been hit on both sides by the withdrawal of several key figures for Level 3 and the Alumni.

With new winners set to be crowned at IM Marsh on Sunday the teams have much to look forward to, but the absence of important players is certain to have an impact.

Star player Jack Horrocks (left) will be absent for Level 3 while Alumni captain Chris Shaw (right) is also missing the final

Star player Jack Horrocks (left) will be absent for Level 3 while Alumni captain Chris Shaw (right) is also missing the final

The third years have undeniably suffered the biggest blow as midfield dynamo Jack Horrocks, who guided them to a 4-2 victory over Level 1 in the semis, is unavailable for the final due to work commitments.

Horrocks told JMU Journalism Sport: “I’m very disappointed to be missing such a big game. I hope the boys can come away with the trophy and leave university as World Cup champions. We played well in the semi-final so hopefully we can continue our form on Sunday.”

Level 3 manager Paul McIntyre admitted: “It’s always difficult without one of your key players but this is an opportunity for another of our lads to step up in Jack’s absence and lead us to glory. We have the strength of character needed to not only get by but thrive under such adversity.”

Team captain Nick Seddon said: “We may be without our star man, but this is Nathan Potter’s time to shine and Josh Weale’s return is a big boost for us at the back. Good things come to those who wait and they can ensure we gain revenge on the biggest stage.”

Potter, who missed the decisive spot-kick when these sides met in last year’s semi-final, will be seeking to erase the memories of the Alumni’s penalty shoot-out triumph in 2013 and fulfil his undoubted potential.

The graduates will be forced into at least three changes from the team that knocked out the second years 3-0 a fortnight ago, with skipper Chris Shaw, Danny Masters and Jeff McGlinchey all unavailable for the Alumni. Hugh O’Connell and Luke Johnson are among those stepping in for the veterans as they make their way to Liverpool from Dublin and London respectively.

Italian flair will be added in the form of Serafino Ingardia, while fellow Class of 2008 graduates Tom Musk and John Mathews Junior join the Alumni ranks.

Player manager/pantomime villain, John Mathews (no relation), must be sorely tempted to start himself on the bench after featuring in both of this year’s semi-finals.

Nathan Potter shoots wide as his side go out on penalties in the JMU Journalism World Cup semi-finals last year

Nathan Potter shoots wide as his side go out on penalties in the JMU Journalism World Cup semi-finals last year

Dan Burke steps up from the vice captain’s role to lead the Alumni, who were beaten on penalties in last year’s final.

Burke feels past form will prove the difference this time round, telling JMU Journalism Sport: “The third years are a good team and we know what they’re capable of but if we go out there and play our best football we can make things difficult for them. We’ve got the experience of being in this position before on our side.”

That experience is also true for Level 3, however they may wish to forget their only previous appearance in the JMU Journalism World Cup Final – a 5-0 reverse against the departing third years back in 2012.