Chris Tracey is hoping to bring the best out of Rhys Darg as his AFC Sudbury side look to avoid a potential banana skin at second-bottom side Ware on Saturday (3pm).
AFC travel to Hertfordshire after an encouraging display against Chatham Town where a previously leaky defence looked visibly stronger with the ex-West Bromich Albion trainnee providing a steadying influence on his comeback.
Darg shone on his first game since having to limp off with a recurrence of a hamstring problem on November 17 after only 12 minutes in the 7-2 defeat at Soham Town Rangers, which was his second game back since signing from Leiston.
Tracey, who was frustrated not to take all three points from Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Chatham, said: “Rhys is someone I know very well and he is a top-class player when he wants to be a top-class player.
“He could easily play this level and levels above and it is just keeping him fit.
“He was a calming influence on Saturday and it rubbed off on Tom Cutts, who had his best game for several weeks and the rest of the team felt the backline was more secure.”
With Ryan Henshaw not set to be rushed back from injury on Saturday, Darg or Cutts will be tasked with marking Ware’s new 6ft 10in striker Leon Simpson.
The giant former Hampton and Richmond striker couldn’t prevent Ware from falling to a 3-2 defeat at home to Harlow Town on Tuesday, who were deducted 10 points for breaching league rules this week, leaving them five points above the drop zone.
And while his side are currently 16 points clear, having played more games, Tracey maintains there is no room for complacency.
“We are still looking over our shoulders, you have to,” he said. “If you look at what happened last year Ware, Great Wakering and I think Ilford put on a sterling run towards the end and you can never say you are safe until you are mathematically safe.
“A club like this shouldn’t be involved in that, various injuries have caused that.
“If we play like we did against Chatham on Saturday I am sure we can get a positive result. But if we let our standards slip, we will end up with egg on our face.”