Lowestoft Town’s injury problems mount
Lowestoft Town's walking wounded squad travel to Wealdstone this afternoon looking to strengthen their hold on top spot in the Ryman League Premier.
The Blues' medical team have been working overtime this week with no less than nine first team regulars carrying injuries or suffering illness.
Of most concern is goalkeeper Andy Reynolds, who had to come off midway through the second half in Lowestoft's 1-1 draw against Canvey Island with a back injury.
If Reynolds fails to recover in time, Lowestoft could hand a competitive debut to 18-year-old goalkeeper Jake Jessup, who signed for Town last month from Great Yarmouth Town.
Blues joint boss Micky Chapman insisted he would have no problem throwing the youngster in and believes his side can take a lot of confidence into this afternoon's match after the way the team held on for a point in midweek.
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'We were so proud of the lads,' said Chapman, who had to put Michael Frew in goal following Reynolds' departure due to having no goalkeeper on the substitutes' bench on Tuesday. 'Our backs were against the wall, our keeper had gone off and we started the game with people missing.
'But everyone was different class and points like that can win you leagues and trophies.
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'It was definitely a point gained for us. We dug in and showed a lot of guts and we came through and got something out of the game.'
Frew will be restored to his striker's role today but showed he has got some ability between the sticks, most notably saving Rob King's late penalty to preserve a point for his side. Chapman revealed that Frew has always played the part of frustrated goalkeeper during training.
'He fancies himself in goal in training sometimes. As soon as Andy went down, he made it clear that he was struggling - we had to get him off before he did some long term damage.
'Frewy stood up and said 'I'll do a job for you' and he certainly did that tonight. By all accounts the guy that took the penalty said beforehand that he had scored the last 15 on the trot - he wasn't laughing afterwards.
'Frewy made a brilliant save, to be fair to the lad he has stuck it in the corner but Frewy went the right way and he not only saved it he got up and got the rebound.
'But all the boys dug in and showed a lot of character - we couldn't have asked any more.'
Chapman is under no illusion this afternoon though as Wealdstone will provide a stern test of the Blues' strength in depth.
Andrew Cave-Brown is a major doubt with a thigh injury while opposite full-back Adam Smith has been battling tonsilitis for the last week.
Lubo Guentchev is still a concern with a mystery virus while Erkan Okay had to come off against Canvey through injury.
Dale Cockrill has a slight hamstring problem but should play while Matt Nolan is a slight doubt with a groin complaint.
Greg Crane's niggling ankle problem is also showing no signs of abating and will be sent for an X-ray in the next week to ascertain the level of damage he has sustained.
'The physio has been working overtime,' admitted Chapman, who also counted Scott Mitchell as a doubt with a thigh injury. 'We have got a lot of knocks and injuries but this is why we carry a squad and we know we've got lads who can come in and do the business for us.'