AFC Sudbury - goal king Baker must be nursed through

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AFC Sudbury manager Chris Tracey has revealed he is having to nurse leading scorer James Baker through the Yellows’ promotion run-in.

The 6ft 3ins striker, who is now one goal away from equalling his 24 strikes in all competitions last season after bagging two in Tuesday’s impressive 3-0 win at Waltham Abbey, has been playing through the pain barrier with shin splints.

Former Braintree Town striker Baker, who is in his second season with the current sixth placed club, has been hindered by what can be excruciating pain for several months and has even not trained some weeks to get himself through 90 minutes.

But after his manager brought him off after 55 minutes on Tuesday night, after scoring twice, Tracey is confident ‘Bakes’ will be fit enough to provide their cutting edge in the business end of the season.

“The last two-and-a-half to three months he has been playing with shin splits,” Tracey revealed. “He does well to keep going and we are having to nurse him through.

“He can play the games, it is only one a week now.

“He has been managing it for two to three months and it is something we are aware of — sometimes he does not train.”

Baker has already hit 23 goals in all competitions this campaign from 40 appearances and will be aiming to match last season’s tally when AFC take on fellow play-off chasers Redbridge (eighth) in another crucial home game at King’s Marsh on Saturday (3pm).

Tracey added: “Some people have their thoughts on this and that but when he (Baker) is not involved we certainly miss him.

“He is a big 6ft 3ins centre-forward that we need to wrap up in cotton wool at the minute.”

The Yellows’ boss was ecstatic with maximum points and two clean sheets over the last seven days, with a 1-0 home win over another side gunning for the top five, Brentwood Town, coming Saturday courtesy of a home debut goal for Jamie Griffiths.

While admitting the Brentwood scoreline could have been more comfortable than 1-0, Tracey was full of praise for the quality of finishing and defending on Tuesday.

“I am absolutely delighted,” he said. “Waltham Abbey is a tough place to go and they have scored 69 goals, so are a threat going forward, and to keep another clean sheet is good.

“We started off on the front foot and quickly got a couple of goals and then the goal straight after half-time.We managed to get a few players off that needed a rest as the game wore on.”

Tracey has no injury concerns ahead of Redbridge — who have also taken 14 points from their last 18 — and has again urged the home crowd to roar his side to victory.

n For live match updates of Saturday’s game, follow @russclaydon on Twitter from 2.30pm.