Andy Leese expects to unleash three of his big guns again as February’s crunch-time begins for Chesham United on Saturday.
The Generals’ boss believes Dave Pearce, Ashlee Jones and Brad Wadkins should all be ready to return from injury for the visit of St Neots to The Meadow. Another recent absentee, Darren Purse, may take a little longer.
But with other squad players passing up the opportunity to impress in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at relegation-haunted Cambridge City, the return of tried and tested warriors would be timely for United’s promotion push.
However with big games coming thick and fast this month, Leese also warned no unnecessary risks would be taken with those coming back.
“I would expect to see three of the four injured boys back for this weekend, based on the medical advice I’ve got,” said Leese.
“I imagine Darren Purse would be the one to miss out as his injury came after the others - but Brad, Ash and Pearcy should be okay. They will have to come through training this week though, and we have to be careful not to rush them.”
A glance at the fixture list underlines how vital it is for United to be as close to full strength as possible.
The St Neots clash is the first of eight packed into a February itinerary which includes a rearranged trip to leaders Chippenham, second-placed Leamington home and away, and road trips to Kettering and fourth-placed Merthyr.
So while Leese does not see the Cambridge reverse as terminal, he knows it heaps more pressure on an already season-defining period.
“Saturday’s result left us angry as a management team because although we had five or six missing, those who stepped in should have been good enough but never got to grips with the challenge on the day,” added Leese.
“I’m not viewing the result as catastrophic, and I’d be surprised and disappointed if this was the start of a real blip. But it is such a critical period, and what Saturday does mean is we are going to have to go and win one of those games-in-hand if we want to achieve the target of getting in the top five,
“That is something we’ve not managed yet this season. We should know by the second week of March whether we are still in contention or not.”