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JOHN Sands was set to put pen to paper on an 18-month contract at Bury Town last night, after impressing enough to earn a permanent move to Ram Meadow during his month-long loan from Mildenhall Town.

As the Free Press went to print yesterday, Blues director Phil Smailes was discussing personal terms with Sands after agreeing an undisclosed fee with the Ridgeons League Premier Division outfit earlier this week.

The signing of Sands — whose loan deal at Bury ended this week — eases part of the selection headache boss Richard Wilkins faces ahead of tomorrow’s home clash with Tooting and Mitcham United in the Ryman Premier (3pm).

Director of football Trevor Collins, who paid tribute to Mildenhall for their part in making the move happen, said: “He has settled in really quickly, seems a good lad and the thing that has impressed people at the club the most is he has a willingness to learn and a lot of determination to succeed.

“He could be a big player for us in the future and while there are a lot of things Richard Wilkins and Richard Skelly want to work with him on, there is the potential for him to become a very good player.”

Chairman Russell Ward added; “A lot of praise has to go to Phil Smailes for his work — he came back with a brilliant deal for the club.”

Ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Tooting, 10 players are on the treatment table.

Craig Nurse (calf), James Scowcroft (groin), John Kennedy (shin) and Elliot Hunter (knee) are all definitely out, while Danny Cunningham (shin) is also a serious doubt.

Wayne Brown (illness/calf) is not expected back until the New Year, while Roscoe Hipperson (hamstring), Lee Smith (knee), Russell Short (groin) and Kieran Leabon (groin) are all carrying knocks.

However, Sam Reed (hamstring) could be in line for his first start since October 15 and young midfielder Luke Ingram has been recalled from Hadleigh United, while Callum Kearns — who has not played since October 2010 because of a serious knee ligament injury — is set to return to action as a substitute in Team Bury’s Ridgeons First Division match at Debenham LC tomorrow (3pm).

Speaking about his side’s ambitions for the winter period, Wilkins said: “We need to be there or thereabouts around the play-offs come the turn of the year.

“We are now a couple of games behind teams and we need to pick up points when we play those games, but I’ve seen enough from the team since I’ve come back from illness to realise we are on the right track.”

n Bury host Corinthian Casuals in the Alan Boon Ryman League Cup on Tuesday (7.45pm).