Baker soon shrugs off injury worries

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Fears that striker James Baker, back in action for just two weeks with AFC Sudbury, would be sidelined again, have not materialised.

Baker suffered a broken wrist in August, and did not return to action until the 1-0 home defeat by Witham on December 1.

He injured the same wrist late on in Saturday’s game against Ware, and was immediately substituted as he was in considerable pain.

Although the wrist was initially badly swollen, by Tuesday this had gone down, and Baker felt confident enough to play at Waltham Forest.

“I feared the worst when he went down clutching his arm,” said manager Chris Tracey.

“He was a long way off full match fitness after being out for four months, but he wanted to get back to help the team.”

Overall the news on the injury front continues to be grim, with Sam Clarke out until at least February with a broken arm. He next sees the specialist in January.

And defender James Smith looks unlikely to return until March at the earliest, with his fractured ankle taking longer to heal than anticipated, leading to fears it may well have ended his season.

Lee Boylan, who has also been out with an ankle injury, was 50-50 to be fit for the match against Ware last Saturday, but was then ruled out by a virus infection.

Leon Antoine was still troubled by his hamstring injury and ruled out of Saturday’s line-up.

But Tracey’s patched-up team scored a vital victory on Saturday, beating bottom-of-the-table Ware 2-0 to record their second win in five games.

This was followed with more success on Tuesday evening in a 2-0 win atWaltham Abbey, giving them a boost ahead of a tough test at second-placed Grays Athletic on Saturday (3pm).

And on Boxing Day, AFC are at home to Needham Market in a Suffolk derby (3pm). Needham sit just below halfway in the table. Tracey is hoping for 
a bumper gate and a good 
result.

He also praised his back five after Saturday. “They are very young, but gaining experience. They got punished for one mistake against Witham, and a couple at Chatham, but against Ware they stood firm. They are learning all the time,” he said.

Tracey is aware AFC need to put together a series of good results, but described Saturday’s performance, in a game where both teams were initially nervous, as a confidence-booster.

“We have to have self-belief, and believe we can get ourselves up the table. Ware was an important three points. Hopefully it will prove a springboard.”

nLee Owen, a stalwart of AFC for six years after signing in March 2000, is back with the club. Owen was with Saffron Walden, but left because of availability problems, and is now turning out for AFC Sudbury Reserves.

Tracey and Owen played together, and Tracey said his former teammate has “great ability.

“It’s a young reserve side, and a player like Lee can use his experience to help the players, and give the team much more stability.”