EASTLEIGH go into battle at home to Chester on Saturday (3pm) without the goalkeeper manager Richard Hill rates as “the best in the National League.”

Former Arsenal and Barnet stopper Graham Stack played on with a calf strain in the 2-1 win at Hartlepool and was sent home on crutches today to ward off any further damage.

With another quality ’keeper Ross Flitney ready to stand in, the goalkeeping position is the least of Hill’s worries in a week when loan duo Sam Matthews (groin) and Callum Howe (knee) have joined an already crippling injury list.

But Hill reckons that Stack, who felt his calf go in the warm-up at Hartlepool, gets a rough ride from some Eastleigh fans, possibly because they link him with Martin Allen’s disastrous 84-day managerial reign last term.

“I could tell Stacky was hobbling a bit last week but, typically of him, he carried on without a fuss.

"We didn’t have a goalkeeper on the bench so he knew there was no point making an issue of it – and he didn’t even let the opposition know there was a problem," said Hill.

“In my opinion Stacky's been wrongly made a scapegoat by some of our fans and, at some point, they have to start embracing him.

"Stacky does have a close allegiance with Martin Allen because he played for him for so many years, but that doesn't mean he doesn't want to play for Eastleigh or Richard Hill.

“He was the best goalkeeper in this league the year Barnet won it and, for me, he still is.

“And our number two (Flitney) is also very close to being the league’s best, so credit to the chairman for allowing me to have two experienced ’keepers of that ability.

“Rosco will play on Saturday and that doesn’t devalue the team in any way, shape or form.

"It's been tough on Rosco because he wants to play games, but he also loves Eastleigh and I'm sure he wouldn't accept this situation (of being number two) at any other club.

"We've now got two goalkeepers who are here for the right reasons."

As far as the rest of Saturday's team selection is concerned, Hill will keep his options open as long as possible.

Striker Ben Williamson is back from hamstring problems, but not yet ready to start, while Paul McCallum, Gavin Hoyte and Sam Togwell need more time.

Michael Green is willing to play in pain with a foot problem, while midfielder Matthews (AFC Bournemouth) and defender/skipper Howe (Lincoln City) will be assessed in collaboration with their parent clubs.

“The worst-case scenario is we won’t have a full quota on the bench and the best-case scenario is we can scrape together five subs,” said Hill.

“If supporters wonder why Richard Hill is putting square pegs in round holes, it’s because he has no choice.

“I could rush players through but, potentially, we'd risk putting them out for another two or three weeks.”

Chester are 21st, six places and five points below the Spitfires, but will travel in good heart under new boss Marcus Bignot.

The former Solihull Moors and Grimsby manager made a dream start with a 2-0 win over Maidenhead last Saturday, ending the Blues’ nine-month wait for a home win.

Bignot said: "It (Eastleigh) will be a tough game, but we’ve got confidence after winning at the weekend and we’ll be going there to get another three points.

“If results go for us, we could get ourselves out of the relegation zone."