An injury crisis is hampering Matlock Town’s pre season with no fewer than six first choice players hurt.
And with fledgling striker Matt Andrews also ruled out with ankle trouble and Adam Yates away on holiday, manager Mark Atkins’ resources were stretched to the absolute limit as he prepared his charges for Tuesday evening’s home 4-0 friendly loss to a strong and useful Leicester City under 21 side.
The most serious of the injuries is to coach and veteran midfielder Martin Foster who limped out of last weekend’s 3-1 win at Handsworth Parramore only to find out afterwards he had sustained a hairline fracture of the leg which will rule him out for at least six weeks.
Add that to last season’s top scorer Danny Holland’s absence with hamstring trouble, knee injuries to defender Micky Harcourt and James Ashmore, skipper Liam Needham being out with a damaged hip and Phil Roe receiving a kick on there foot against Handsworth, Atkins was forced to name more or less what he had left against Leicester.
“Having so many of our main players out at one go is a major headache” Atkins admitted. “They need games to work their way up to fitness and to stay fully fit with the first game of the season getting nearer.”
Fortunately that opening match at Trafford is still just over a fortnight away but there are only two more friendlies, at Staveley tomorrow (Friday 7.30) and at Sheffield FC on Saturday week for the absentees to demonstrate they are on the right road to recovery.
“Fozzie’s broken leg is a real blow for he’s put in a lot of work personally getting himself fit and on the coaching side” added Atkins. “He’s gutted about it and so are we but let’s hope it heals well. Even then we’re looking at six weeks.”
The Town boss offered more encouraging news about the other casualties.
“Danny should be back within the next few days while Micky Harcourt’s going to play some part in the next couple of matches, it’s a situation we’re going to have to manage until he gets seen by the medical people. Hopefully Liam’s hip, Roey’s foot and Matt’s ankle aren’t too serious and they’ll soon be back.”
On the plus side, Atkins confirmed the signing of midfielder Josh Meade after the Handsworth match. The eighteen year old has been released by Doncaster Rovers having made just one JP Trophy first team appearance, but has been impressive during Matlock’s pre season campaign.
Atkins reckoned the Handsworth performance and result was useful, while he remained philosophical about the Leicester defeat.
“It was a very hot day last Saturday and a good workout, we scored three goals and could and should have got more and it was a more physical game than we’ve had so far so in that sense it was just what we needed. It was always going to be difficult against a great Leicester side with a young squad with an average age of 20. A lot of the Leicester lads are close to being in the first team squad but we played some good stuff at times but perhaps our defending let us down. It wasn’t a 4-0 result but Leicester definitely deserved their win.”
The goalscoring department is a concern, particularly if Holland is struck down by injury.
“We’re still working hard to bring someone in” Atkins confirmed.