EASTLEIGH boss Ben Strevens has long been a fan of Mark Yeates’s footballing ability.

But he believes that, at the age of 33, the Irishman’s all-round game for the Spitfires is better than ever.

Strevens leads Eastleigh to Maidstone United tomorrow evening (7.45pm) looking to extend a solid run of just one defeat in 12 league games that has carried the club to the brink of the Vanarama National League play-off zone.

Yeates's attacking flair and set-piece skills have been central to that run, but what impresses Strevens is the workrate that goes with it.

“Yeatesy’s a quality footballer who has played a large chunk of his career in the Championship,” said Strevens.

“I knew him from afar and always thought he was a good footballer, but to work with him on a daily basis you see how good he is.

“On top of that, now everyone can see how hard he is working without the ball as well.

“In Yeatesy’s career, rightly or wrongly, people have said he’s very good on the ball, but not so good without it.

“But when you give him the freedom and licence he likes to play with and the quality he can produce – and the workrate that’s going with it now – he’s a real bonus for this football club.”

Yeates’ dead-ball skills set up Eastleigh’s goal in the 1-1 draw against Chesterfield on Saturday when his corner was flicked by Ben Williamson for Alex Wynter to head in at the far post.

“We’d worked on the set-play in training and scored from the first one and then the keeper’s pulled off a hell of a save from Macca (Paul McCallum) from a second one,” said Strevens.

Having started his career at Tottenham, Yeates racked up games for the likes of Middlesbrough, Sheffield United, Watford and Bradford City before joining Eastleigh in June 2017 following a spell with Notts County.

Discussing the work ethic Strevens has to instilled in his players, Yeates said: “Since Strevs took over he’s expected everyone to really work hard for each other and there’s a really good team spirit.

“People are starting to see the real us and we’re confident we can keep it going.”

Left wing-back Michael Green missed Saturday’s game with a groin problem but did some work with physio Andy Cook.

Wynter also has a groin issue, while fellow centre-back Andrew Boyce is another doubt.

“Boycey collided with the post in the first half on Saturday and has gashed his shin and done his groin at the same time,” Strevens reported.

“Greener’s worked with the physio but we might be looking more Dover (at home on Saturday, 3pm) than Tuesday.”

Tomorrow's opponents Maidstone are licking their wounds after Saturday’s 5-2 thumping at Havant & Waterlooville left them third to bottom of the table.

The Stones played for over an hour with ten men after having Elliott Romain red-carded and their manager Harry Wheeler was sent from the dugout.