Injury concerns for Scott’s men ahead of opener

Matt Dixon, left
Matt Dixon, left
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Thetford Town’s bid to prove they deserve to be in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division this season has been hit by a series of injuries.

Goalkeeper Ross Bilham (knee), defender Martin Carter (broken wrist), midfielder Bruno Tavares (hamstring) and striker Wayne Proctor (ankle) are all set to miss tomorrow’s curtain raiser at Stanway Rovers (3pm).

The Brecklanders — whose first home game is against Gorleston on Tuesday (7.45pm) — finished in the bottom three last term, but they were given a relegation reprieve after Dereham Town’s promotion, Wisbech Town’s move to the United Counties League and Cambridge University Press’ demotion to the Cambridgeshire League.

“Our aim is to re-establish ourselves as a competitive side in the Premier Division and prove that is the division we deserve to be in,” said manager Mark Scott, whose side won just one of their last 22 league games in 2012/13. “If we can keep our squad together, there is real potential for a mid-table finish.”

The Brecklanders returned to the ninth tier of English football when they were promoted from the First Division in 2011/12, but a number of players exited before and during the campaign to wreck their hopes of pressing on.

However, the likes of Matt Dixon — top scorer in their promotion year — and former captain Sean O’Donnell have returned this summer, although the latter is unavailable for the start of the season.

Goalkeepers Bilham and Matt Barker have also been added to the squad, meaning Ian Fancett — who has deputised between the sticks for the past two seasons — will revert to being a winger.

Midfielder Craig Skipp has also returned to the club, while ex-Stowmarket Town striker Proctor has moved from Mildenhall Town.

Scott remained in the market for a couple of new players as the Free Press went to print, but the former Needham Market Reserves chief believes his squad has plenty of strength in depth already.

All fit and available senior players would have had a run-out by the time Thetford travel to Stanway tomorrow.

Thetford drew 3-3 with Needham Market Reserves on Monday thanks to goals from Sam Whiting, Shane Leech and Sam Bond, while trialist Callum Stewart — formerly of Histon — netted in the Brecklanders’ 3-2 win over Ely City Reserves on Tuesday and was joined on the scoresheet by Ryan Skipp and Tom MacDonald.

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s match at Stanway, Scott said: “It’s not going to be an easy task going there, but it’s the first game of the season so they don’t know us and we won’t know them.

“We need to aim to get something, even if it’s a point.”