Wilkins heaps praise on Kennedy’s resurgence

MAN IN FORM: John Kennedy
MAN IN FORM: John Kennedy
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A RESURGENT John Kennedy has been praised by Bury Town manager Richard Wilkins for helping the Blues into the Ryman League Premier Division play-off positions.

The veteran holding midfielder has made just 25 appearances in an injury-hit season for the Blues since signing from Cambridge City last summer, but has started the last nine matches and helped Bury climb to fifth in the table.

And Wilkins — whose team visit East Thurrock United tomorrow (3pm) before hosting Margate on Tuesday (7.45pm) — declared the ex-Histon player a key figure in the Blues’ upturn in form.

“If I had to pick one player who has been the one who has pushed us to a different level, it would be John Kennedy,” said Wilkins. “His performances have been really good since he’s been fully fit.”

Kennedy was one of Bury’s marquee signings in the summer, but struggled to recapture the form that helped him win the FA Trophy final with Canvey Island in 2001.

However, after an extended injury lay-off, Kennedy has returned to the side alongside Lee Reed in central midfield, helping his partner find some of his best creative form.

The duo are set to start again tomorrow at an East Thurrock United side Bury trounced 5-2 in the reverse fixture at Ram Meadow on November 19.

However, Blues’ boss Wilkins has warned his players they need to maintain their level of performance to keep their strong run of form going.

“The squad is looking very strong, which is very good for this time of the year,” said Wilkins, whose side have lost just one of their last eight matches. “We need to concentrate on each game.

“At times in the second half against Leatherhead on Saturday we were unbelievable — they are the levels we are capable of.

“Confidence is a big thing and we have a lot of people fulfilling their potential at the moment.

“If that can be maintained then we will be right up there in the mix for promotion. We haven’t given up on first place.”

Following their trip to Essex on Saturday, the Blues welcome Margate to Ram Meadow for the first of a run of four home games — the last of which is an Alan Boon Ryman League Cup semi-final against Suffolk rivals Lowestoft Town on February 21.

Bury will not have to face Margate’s 35-goal top scorer Kwesi Appiah after the prolific striker agreed a move to npower Championship outfit Crystal Palace, having previously rejected a £200,000 switch to Blackpool.

Elliot Hunter (knee) and Callum Kearns (knee) remain out for Bury, while Craig Nurse may have to turn out for Team Bury after missing the 5-0 victory over Leatherhead because of holiday.

However, Billy Clark and Danny Cunningham are set to return from injury and suspension, respectively.

Bury (from): Bullard, B Clark, R Clark, Coulson, Cunningham, Garnham, Hall, Hipperson, Kennedy, Leabon, Nunn, Nurse, L Reed, S Reed, Sands, Short, Smith.