Injuries postpone Tracey’s squad cull

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A MOUNTING injury list has led to AFC Sudbury manager Chris Tracey putting plans to trim his squad on hold.

The Yellows’ boss had said he would tell seven players to move on to reduce the number of registered players from 24 to 17.

But with skipper Sam Clarke (broken arm) joining James Baker (broken wrist), Bradley Thomas (hernia), Michael Shinn (thigh) and Leon Antonie on the sidelines, he has decided to hold off on the cull.

“Some people have played in the last couple of games and really staked a claim to remain,” he said. “On Monday I had 17 fit players, so we shall review the situation now on a week-to-week basis.

“Bradley Thomas is seeing a specialist on Friday, so we will find out more about his problem then.”

Forward Tom Webb did his chances of staying no harm on Saturday when he scored twice from the substitute’s bench in the 5-0 win over fellow Ryman One North side Ilford in the FA Cup to give AFC their first victory of the campaign.

They then followed it up with a 2-1 success at Harlow Town in the league on Monday with Dave Bryant and Ben Bowditch getting their first goals for the club in a performance that Tracey thought was the pick of the two.

“I think that was a better performance,” he said. “We have been working on expressing ourselves going forward in training and things were not quite coming off at the end on Monday but I thought it was a 2-1 stuffing — especially as we had to contend with Sam’s injury.”

Tracey said his captain, currently in plaster from his shoulder to wrist, will return to hospital for X-Rays on Monday before specialists decide whether they can knit it together or it requires pins.

“It is a big blow,” admitted Tracey, whose side face a tough test of their title aspirations when they host Grays Athletic on Saturday (3pm). “After the game he managed to get on his phone to check the score and he was delighted we won — he was more concerned about that than his arm and that is the calibre of the guy.”

He added: “I have been criticised sometimes for putting together a big squad, but we need it at the moment.”

With just 181 people turning out for Saturday’s cup game, Tracey is hoping it has convinced the doubters they were wrong to turn their backs after a faltering start to the season.

And he is ready to prove they can live up to the hype by seeing off fellow promotion favourites Grays on Saturday.

“Like Harlow they will be up there,” he said. “Already it is a big game and we will be in there at the end with them.

“They ended our prospects last season, so there is a score to settle and both teams play good football, so hopefully the people who turn up will see a good game.”

AFC, who have announced Lord Andrew Phillips as their new club president, will visit Heybridge Swifts in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup, a week Saturday.