Fleet’s squad will be stretched to the limit as they begin the first of numerous away games tonight at Bath City – nine of the next 11 games over five weeks will take place on the road and to that end manager Steve Brown is grateful one more of his core squad is almost approaching fitness.
Long-term absentee Shane Huke is nearing the end of his rehabilitation process as Brown made clear his reliance on a squad with a clean bill of health ahead of the punishing away schedule this month and next.
Huke, who suffered a metatarsal injury playing against Dartford back in October, has his final appointment with a specialist this coming weekend and should get the green light to resume full training after that.
Meanwhile, Brown is mulling over options to get Yado Mambo more game time, including a possible loan for the former Charlton defender.
“If Yado gets through the next few training sessions,” Brown said, “the prudent thing would be to get him some games. We’ve got so many games in March, nine I think, so we’re only going to be doing three or four training sessions and they’ll be very light. The only real way to get Yado fit would be to loan him out.
“Shane Huke’s nearly up to full speed. He’s naturally very fit so I don’t think there’s any necessity to loan him out but in terms of our squad and our numbers, it’s nice to have a lot of cover defensively, especially towards the back end of the season. I felt at the time that I let Tom Phipp go and brought in Anthony Acheampong and Yado that it gave us a better balance in the squad.
“Paul Lorraine and Osei Sankofa dug in for me for three or four months when they had no cover. They were both very good and they understand with the additions I’ve made, it’s very much a case of fighting for your spot, which they are doing at the moment.”
Bath emerged from a fixture at leaders Bromley at the weekend with a creditable draw – as they did at Stonebridge Road back in September, when Huke scored his first league goal for the Fleet. The West Country side have since kept pace with the play-off places and, though a recent poor run of form has left them seven points behind the Fleet having played three games more, they still harbour designs on fifth spot at least.
One familiar face in the Bath line-up will be Phil Walsh in his second spell at Twerton Park, who signed on Thursday from Margate and made his debut at Bromley. Despite having scored 13 goals in the striker’s role at Margate, and having played as target man in his previous tenure at Bath, Walsh occupied the left side of a back three on Saturday and seems set to replace Mark Preece, the former Forest Green centre back having been released last week.
Meanwhile another familiar face, defender Will Salmon who scored Bath’s equaliser at Stonebridge Road, has since left the club to join Woking.