Mark Morsley is confident Needham Market are over the worst of their injury crisis as he targets a maximum points haul over the festive period.
The Marketmen saw an eight-match unbeaten run in all competitions come to an abrupt end as they slumped to a 2-1 defeat at home to Burnham Ramblers as the absence of no fewer than 10 players took its toll.
However, ahead of a trip to Romford tomorrow (3pm) before hosting rivals AFC Sudbury in a sizzling Boxing Day derby (1pm), the manager is hopeful of bouncing back to winning ways with the return of Ollie Fenn, Ryan Melaugh and Ian Westlake to boost his injury-ravaged squad.
“Things were so bad on Saturday,” he said. “I lost Ryan Charles in the warm-up, Lee Norfolk during the game, Sam Thrower was so badly cramped he couldn’t walk and my goalkeeping coach had to play up front for part of the game — it was a nightmare.
“I think we did pretty well bearing in mind the problems we had and that is the disappointing thing because young lads who played deserved something from the game.
“That certainly was not the way we should have lost our unbeaten run.
“Hopefully we should have a strong 11 with a few substitutes, which should give us a chance.
“What happened on Saturday was tough, but it every team suffers injuries and we will just have to roll with it.
“Hopefully we can get back on track now because I would disappointed if we didn’t get something from the game — I’m confident of victory.
With their Suffolk rivals also expected to be challenging for a play-off place come the end of the season, the importance of the Boxing Day clash has not been lost on Morsley.
“Boxing Day will be a big game and we should have near to a full squad available,” he added. “I’m really looking forward to it — it will be a good test and will be important to us if we are going to stay around the play-off places.
“It will be a great Boxing Day fixture so hopefully we can keep on track.”
n Needham crashed to a 2-1 defeat at home to Burnham Ramblers on Saturday, with Billy Hunt netting a last-minute winner for the visitors.
Ramblers goalkeeper Louis Godwin-Green made smart saves from debutant Russell Malton and Richard Logan before Kemal Izzet headed wide from eight yards.
The visitors took the lead against the run of play through Neil Richmond nine minutes before the break, but Malton teed up Luke Ingram to restore parity on the stroke of half-time.
Needham suffered more injuries to their already-depleted squad during the second half and they were dealt a cruel blow in the final minute when Richmond headed Bradley Nobbs’ cross down for Hunt to tap home.
n Needham Market’s Suffolk Premier Cup semi-final with Felixstowe and Walton United will take place at Notcutts Park on Wednesday, March 5.