Daryl McMahon has declared his side are “in a healthy position” despite a number of names added to the casualty list over the past week and hopes a go-karting bonding session in midweek will keep Fleet in overdrive.
The Fleet squad enjoyed a go-karting outing on Monday as McMahon allowed his charges some team-bonding and recuperation time and it paid off for the recently suspended Dean Rance who roared back into action with the fastest performance.
Rance is back in contention this week after his suspension ended and with Jake Howells added to his options, the Fleet boss believes he has competition for places despite being a little short on healthy numbers. “It’s good to get Dean back and available for selection but Jack Powell has come in after not been playing and scored two,” said McMahon. “He’s played ever so well, too, so we’re in a healthy position with regards to competitiveness for places and team spirit.”
New loan signing Howells can play in central midfield, but he’s more likely to be utilised at left back to cover a hamstring injury to Jack Connors, while he also offers an option down the left wing if Fleet are short there – and with Anthony Cook having been ill all week, there’s a chance that could be the case.
Skipper Danny Kedwell, meanwhile, is set to make his 100th appearance for the club.
The big worry over Andy Drury’s injury seems to have abated as Fleet monitored the midfielder’s progress in midweek and McMahon hailed “a remarkable recovery”. Drury injured his foot after an hour of the St Albans game last Saturday when Anthony Cook accidentally trod on his instep and received lengthy treatment before hobbling slowly and painfully to the changing rooms.
But the damage isn’t as bad as McMahon initially feared. “Andy’s made a remarkable recovery,” the boss told FleetOnline. “He was unable to train earlier in the week but we were hoping he was going to do so on Thursday which is lucky because I thought he might be out for six weeks after Saturday. We’ll see what he’s like in training if he manages it, but it’s still very much touch and go for the two home games for him.”
Defender Dave Winfield is set to miss another couple of games as well after his calf injury during the East Thurrock match two weeks ago – but he’s in line for a return at Hampton. “Dave will hopefully be back in next week,” said McMahon. “It’s a minor calf injury but when you pick up a muscular injury at this stage of the season, if he needs a few extra days to recover, I’d rather do that than play him and produce unwanted after effects. So we’ll manage it and give him a few more days.”
Defensive cover is provided by Yado Mambo and Reiss Greenidge, who ended his 93-day loan at Hemel last week. “With Dave’s injury, it’s good to have those two here to back him up. Reiss isn’t short of loan offers but at the moment we’ll keep him here,” said the manager.
Weston-super-Mare have lost their last three games, all at home, but only marginally with two late goals condemning them against Wealdstone and Bath City, while they also pushed Maidenhead all the way last week. Their away form is better and they lie fourth in the form table on their travels. It has seen them perform their annual ‘Great Escape’ somewhat early, turning round a run of just one win in 18 games up to December. They are now 10 points clear of the drop zone and to all intents and purposes safe given the abject form of the bottom three.
But McMahon is refusing to let talk of supposedly “easy” opposition undermine his players’ approach to the game. “People will look at these games like Weston and then Bishop’s Stortford on paper and the form the teams are on and just assume a positive result,” he said. “But we won’t. We’ll treat every game the same and every opposition with the utmost respect irrespective of where they are in the league table. We’ve got our own standards and we expect to hit those standards of performance.”
Weston, whose manager Scott Bartlett started his reign with defeat at home to the Fleet earlier in the season, has overhauled his squad and only five or six from the October game are likely to be on show at Stonebridge Road. He has a couple of loanees from Bristol City and Rovers drafted in, while ex-Bromley and Chelmsford striker Jake Reid could lead the line. Cardiff loanee Lloyd Humphries and defender Rollin Menayese, also once of Cardiff, have been gaining good reviews since they joined the club.
Weston have a decent record against the Fleet having won five games to our four in the head-to-head battle and they bloodied Jamie Day’s nose on his first outing as manager with a shock 1-0 win here back in 2014.