IT’S A managerial conundrum that the likes of Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp will never have to solve.

The morning of a big cup tie and half the team selection hinges on kind employers giving their players time off work to travel the other end of the country.

But what happened with Whitby Town will ring true with anyone in charge of a part-time team.

And the result was what still sets the FA Cup apart after so long.

Former City midfielder Lee Bullock has seen plenty during a professional career spanning 15 years, over four of them at Valley Parade.

But nothing had prepared Whitby’s assistant manager for their third qualifying round replay at Gloucester.

“We should have beaten them in the first game but conceded the equaliser with 30 seconds to go,” he said.

“They were a league above so we knew the replay would go two ways. We’d either get hammered or go down there and do something stupid.”

It was a game plan two days later forged by necessity. The 14-man travelling squad included three goalkeepers.

Team selection was based on those bodies on the bus, rather than their specialised position.

Bullock added: “We’ve got about seven injuries and had lads who couldn’t get out of work,

“We’re a Teesside-based team and were leaving at 1pm so some of the employers couldn’t let them go.

“On Sunday, we only had seven players. A few had to go in and ask first thing that morning if they could have the time off because they work on building sites and things like that.

“We had a coach on the bench who hadn’t played all season and two goalkeepers – the physio’s son and the keeper coach.

“One of our centre forwards couldn’t get out of work and two were injured. So, we had to play the centre half up front and he scored two!

“But he went back to defence for the last 20 minutes when we were getting battered and the goalkeeping coach ended up going up front after the other striker got cramp.”

Against the odds, Whitby pulled off a 3-1 win which earned them a home tie with Stourbridge tomorrow. Another victory, in front of a crowd predicted to hit 1,000, would put the Seasiders into the FA Cup first round proper for the first time in 16 years.

Bullock, whose playing days are coming to an end because of his knees, admitted: “I’ve been doing this a few years now and that’s got to be the best result we’ve ever pulled off.

“We got back to Teesside at 4am singing away. Normally there’d be a few cans but the majority of us, myself included, were up at six to get ready for work again.”

Bullock is now in his third full season as number two to Whitby boss Chris Hardy. He combines his role with a job as football development officer at Hartlepool sixth-form college.

He is also studying for a degree in sporting exercise coaching.

But his eyes have been opened by the lengths the players go to.

“Obviously, I was a pro at Bradford and you moaned and groaned about being tired," he said.

“But when you see what these lads put in to come and play football, sometimes driving themselves across the country to get to a game on a Tuesday night because the bus has already left, it’s an unbelievable commitment.

“The two of us are very encouraging. We’ve got to keep them onside because it’s such a small catchment area.

“Football has changed and you can’t rollick them like Peter Taylor used to do with us. It got you going but that treatment these days would make players burst out crying in the dressing room.

“They give everything and know when they’re rubbish. We enjoy it and try not to get involved with the opposition and the referee.

“We’ve been useless in the FA Cup for years and been turned over by teams below us but we’ve made £30,000 so far. That pays back some of the effort that goes in.

“This game is worth another £18,250 for the winner – and probably the biggest one these lads have ever played in.

“If they go through, they’ll be heroes. Beat Stourbridge and we could pick Bradford or Sunderland away.

“Or imagine them coming to us on top of the cliff with the wind howling! But that’s a million miles off for now.

“I had some good relegation ding-dongs in my time and some scraps at the bottom with Bradford. But this is something very different for me.”