Andy Preece

STRENGTH in depth is the key reason why Airbus UK Broughton are fighting for Europe on two fronts.

That was the verdict of director of football Andy Preece after he watched his impressive side cruise into the last 16 of the Welsh Cup with a 3-0 home win over Port Talbot Town.

Preece was without captain Ian Kearney, midfield playmaker Tom Field and talismanic frontman Chris Budrys for the third-round tie.

But the trio were not missed as the Wingmakers swept aside the Steelmen for the second time in two weeks thanks to top scorer Steve Abbott's third hat-trick of the season.

The winners of the Welsh Cup will claim a place in the Europa League. A further Europa League place and a Champions League spot will go to the sides that finish second and first respectively in the Welsh Premier with a play-off between the teams ranked third to seventh deciding the final Europa League place.

"We made four changes on Saturday but you wouldn't have noticed," Preece said.

"Being able to do that is the reason why we're challenging for the top six and maybe more.

"You can't win or achieve anything with just 11 players, it's all about the squad.

"You can't bring in players outside the transfer window so it's important to have a big squad but it's difficult to give every player a chance because we have done so well.

"Of course players are disappointed when they're not playing but I always try to explain my decisions and let them know what they've got to do to get into the team."

Richie Partridge, along with Kearney and Abbott, are injury doubts for Saturday's league encounter away to Aberystwyth Town, while Toby Jones remains sidelined.