Bury Town will be down to the bare bones when they start their defence of the Suffolk FA Premier Cup, sponsored by Ransomes Jacobsen, on Tuesday (7.45pm).
Manager Ben Chenery said he will be missing ‘six or seven’ players through injury and illness for their first-round tie away to Leiston.
Bury have beaten their fellow Ryman League Premier Division opponents at the semi-final stage in each of the last three seasons.
Last season Bury won the battle of the Blues 2-1 at The MEL Group Stadium, home of AFC Sudbury, before returning there to defeat Felixstowe & Walton United 4-1 in the final.
Chenery — who took over in the summer as manager from Richard Wilkins, now assistant to Leiston boss Steve Ball — said: “The Premier Cup has been good to us as a club in recent seasons.
“We have had some very enjoyable times in the competition, so we will be doing as much as we can to retain the cup.
“As both clubs play in the Ryman Premier it is a shame that we are meeting so early on in the competition, but you are in the lap of the Gods when it comes to the draw.
“However, I am sure it will be an entertaining game between two Ryman Premier teams who like to play good football.”
Chenery has a mounting injury and illness list to contend with ahead of the match at Victory Road.
He said: “We have had so many games — we have played 17 league games already — and we are nursing a few injuries as well as illness and will be missing six or seven players, so we will be down to the bare bones.
“We had an important match at AFC Hornchurch (1-1 draw) on Saturday and we have another one at home to East Thurrock United this Saturday.
“We have fringe players who are in need of a game, so they will definitely be involved.”
Walsham-le-Willows travel to Haverhill Rovers on the same night, while Needham Market host Mildenhall Town on Wednesday (both 7.45pm).