Ashley Sloots and Rhys Darg are set to return to AFC Sudbury for Saturday’s crucial home game against fellow strugglers Redbridge (3pm).
The club’s injury crisis has deepened this week, with Taylor Sinfield joining the list of casualties, suffering shin splints, so manager Chris Tracey has moved quickly as he bids to end the current poor run of results.
James Smith has been ruled out for at least six weeks after breaking an ankle last week; James Baker had the cast removed from his broken wrist on Monday, but has been told he cannot play for another six weeks; and Sam Clarke has another two weeks to wait before a specialist looks at his broken arm.
“These three players are the spine of our side,” said Tracey. “We are looking at the new year before any of them are likely to be back. Any club missing players of this ability would struggle. In all my time as a player and manager I have never known an injury crisis like it.”
Defender Sloots has been playing for Hadleigh United this season, and manager Stuart Crawford swiftly gave Tracey permission to talk to the player, who will slot into the defence on Saturday.
Darg has been on trial at Billericay after a spell with Leiston. “He scores goals, is good in both boxes, and can play in several positions,” said Tracey, who also has put in a number of seven-day notices of approach for other players.
AFC have now gone two months without a win, 14 games in all competitions, and have conceded 19 goals in the last five league games. It’s a run Tracey is working hard to stop.
“I will continue battling for this club as I did as a player. I will roll my sleeves up and work hard to turn things round. It may be that we have to change our style of play to get results. If so we will do it.
“It will turn,” said Tracey. “In the dressing room we are confident that things will change. As we saw last season, a losing habit can soon become a winning one. I was happy to puff my chest out when we did well then.
“Now I have to take the flak. But a win on Saturday, and the whole atmosphere changes. It’s a vital game — unfortunately at the wrong end of the table.”
Redbridge are two places below AFC, having lost nine of their 12 league games played. AFC have lost six of their 13 league matches.
Meanwhile, defender Lauris Coggin has left the club after injuries restricted him to just one appearance since signing in the summer, returning to Heybridge Swifts.
AFC are also set to face Stuart Fergus, who only recently left the club to join Saturday’s opponents.
n AFC Ladies will be aiming to secure a place in the first round proper of the Women’s FA Cup, when they host West Billericay in the third qualifying round on Sunday (1.30pm) on the club’s main pitch. The Grassroots are also hosting a non-competitive Under-7s tournament on Sunday (1.30pm).