Ben Chenery is adamant Bury Town will have no fear when they host former manager Richard Wilkins’ high-flying Leiston in a Boxing Day reunion.
Ahead of welcoming their rivals to Ram Meadow (1pm) in one of the standout ties in the festive fixture schedule, the Blues remain rooted to the foot of the Ryman League Premier Division table, eight points adrift of safety despite halting a run of seven straight league defeats with a 1-1 draw with relegation rivals VCD Athletic.
And while a visit from Leiston, who sit just a point outside the playoff places, may not be seen as the most favourable of fixtures, Chenery is relishing a reunion with the man he replaced at the helm in June as he aims to restore some much needed festive cheer at Bury.
“I honestly have no fear facing any team in this division.” said the manager, ahead of the tie which will also see former players Tom Bullard, Adam Tann, Craig Parker and Danny Cunningham return to Ram Meadow.
“If I had a side who had no character or heart then I would be but that is certainly not the case with these players.
“We respect Leiston but I know the fans will be fired up. I’d love to give them something to cheer about.
“Having Richard return adds a bit of spice. We are good friends outside of football, we have a big respect for one another and he has been extremely supportive of me here. We will both going all out for the victory and I’m really looking forward to it.”
The manager will have to cope with the absences of Russell Short, Seb Dunbar and Joe Whight but he will boosted with the timely gift of striker John Sands being set to feature for the first time since signing on dual registration from Chelmsford City, much to his delight.
“John is raring to go for Boxing Day and that is a huge boost. There is no one better inside the area ,” he added.
Meanwhile, Wilkins, who enjoyed 14 years in the Bury dugout, has backed his successor to improve the Blues’ fortunes, albeit not on Friday.
“I had 14 good years at the club, it is a big game for both teams so it should be a cracker,” he said.
“I’m surprised to see Bury where they are and I know Ben’s hands are tied with constraints but no one will be working harder than him to turn things around.
“He is in a tough situation but they have plenty of time to turn things around, just hopefully not starting on Friday.”