GEORGE Clegg is unavailable for Worcester City's first two Nationwide North games -- leaving boss Andy Preece with a midfield headache.

The former Manchester United trainee will be on holiday for City's August 13 opener at Kettering Town and the St George's Lane clash with Hinckley United two days later.

Unfortunately for Preece, Clegg's vacation was booked prior to joining Worcester as the player-manager's first signing in February this year.

Five midfielders will therefore scrap it out for three starting places when the campaign begins at Rockingham Road, although Preece admits he is still agonising over his perfect trio.

During pre-season, the veteran striker has rotated his midfield pack on a regular basis and will look to find the right combination tonight when City host an Oxford United XI (7.45pm).

"Midfield is one area where I've got a slight problem," said Preece. "It's still difficult for me to pick my three.

"Cleggy is away on holiday for the first couple of league games, so that rules him out. It's a blow, but he booked it a long time ago. It's just one of those things.

"We are down to picking three from five. There's an opportunity for all of them to stamp their authority in the midfield position. It is up for grabs for the players, but it's important we have a strong midfield."

Worcester were forced to settle for a goalless draw at neighbours Evesham United in their latest friendly on Saturday.

Trailists Robert Hubbell, Danny Hodnett, Chad Sheppard and Jimmi-Lee Jones were among the starters in an inexperienced line-up and a decision on the future of the young quartet will be made later this week.

A strong Worcester side takes to the pitch tonight, with a possible shock on the cards as Oxford look set to field their second-string.

The Coca-Cola League Two outfit kick-start their league campaign at Grimsby this Saturday and manager Brian Talbot does not intend to risk injury or suspension to his top players.

Preece said: "It will be Oxford's last game before their season starts and they won't be playing too many first-teamers. But whatever side they start with, they will have players with Football League experience.

"We will probably start with our strongest side in the next two games. Perhaps one or two of the trialists will be involved."

He added: "Obviously, we have to make a decision on the trialists and that will happen this week. I want to speak to the lads first before we make those decisions.

"They have all come in and done well. They have trained hard, worked really hard and their attitude has been spot on.

"I could not have asked for anything more. It's now just a matter of whether I feel they are good enough for us to offer them a deal."