ANDY Preece is hoping the FA Cup will take the pressure off his Worcester City players and kick-start the club's season.

City must lose their mediocre league form tomorrow as lowly Bemerton Heath Harlequins arrive at St George's Lane in the second qualifying round.

Achieving safe passage into the next stage of the competition should prove a formality against the Wiltshire side languishing in Sydenham Wessex Division One, three levels down from Nationwide North.

But confidence is in short supply at Worcester after going five games without a win.

Preece's troops stand just two points above Vauxhall Motors at the foot of the league table and have just one triumph to their name in 2005/06.

Worcester's boss admits his players are feeling the heat following a poor start to the campaign, although he is backing them.

"When we are in the position we are in, you've got to feel the pressure," said Preece. "And when you worry about where you are in the league, it's a battle to get rid of that.

"The players know in patches that they have played well. They know the side is not as bad as our league position suggests.

"There is pressure on us, but we are good enough to come through this. We've just got to keep believing and things will turn for us.

"We don't want to be down there near the bottom of the table. It is not a nice place to be. But we don't deserve to be there and, hopefully, we won't be down there for too long.

"Hopefully, the FA Cup will get us going and give us a little bit of confidence. It helps take our mind off the league."

Exacerbating City's poor run of results is a considerable injury list, with Jai Stanley (knee), George Clegg (hamstring attachment), James Smith (neck) and Les Hines (thigh) ruled out for the cup clash.

But midfielder Nick Colley came through training last night after a hamstring injury and is expected to return tomorrow.

Striker Adam Webster and teenage defender Shabir Khan should start, despite picking up niggles in last Saturday's 1-1 draw at Moor Green.

Preece added: "Nick was touch and go for the game at Moor Green, but because it's a hamstring it could be touch and go for the next three or four weeks.

"He was OK working at three-quarters pace, but anything above that and he was feeling it.

"Les was reasonably hopeful of playing. But the big problem he's had is that when he strikes the ball, he gets a sharp pain in his thigh."

Preece is not expecting an easy work-out against Harlequins, who defeated Penzance and Ilfracombe Town by 1-0 scorelines in previous rounds.

The Salisbury-based outfit have their own injury dilemma, with joint-managers Steve Slade and John Sainty missing five senior players, but Preece is taking no chances with his preparation.

He said: "Whatever anybody says, it's going to be a tough game. We've had Bemerton watched and that's important for us.

"They would love to come here and make a name for themselves. We've got to make sure there is no shock at Worcester."

If tomorrow's game ends in a draw, the replay will be on Tuesday.