PHIL Simkin has plenty to ponder ahead of the Magpies’ crunch clash at Basingstoke Town tomorrow (3pm), with question marks over the fitness of several key players.
The Dorchester Town boss has big decisions to make regarding Mark Jermyn, Jamie Gleeson and Warren Byerley, who he is hoping will all be available for the trip to the Camrose Stadium.
While there were fears that Jermyn’s season might have been finished when he pulled a hamstring at Chelmsford, Simkin told Echosport yesterday that he could be a shock inclusion in tomorrow’s squad.
Meanwhile, Gleeson, an unused substitute in the midweek drubbing against Eastleigh, and Byerley, who didn’t make the squad at all due to an accumulation of bumps and bruises, might return to action this weekend.
Simkin was assessing the fitness of the trio at training last night, although one man who definitely won’t be involved is the suspended Nick Crittenden.
“If Glees is anywhere near fit he will obviously start the game,” said Simkin. “But if there is any doubt he won’t because I’m not prepared to take any chances with his knee and such a massive game against Maidenhead next Tuesday.
“Believe it or not, Jem might have a chance of playing, and I’ll have to speak to Warren to see if he is going to be fit enough.
“Critts is going to be missing through suspension but he got a knock on the top of his foot so he will have the chance to rest and prepare for Tuesday.”
Despite Tuesday’s 6-0 pummelling at Eastleigh, Simkin felt his men did their best against a side who could go on to clinch the Skrill South title.
In particular, Simkin praised new loan signing Elliott Chamberlain, stand-in skipper Jake Smeeton and makeshift striker Steve Walker, who could fulfil the same role tomorrow.
Basingstoke triumphed 4-0 at the Avenue last October but haven’t won in five, a run the Magpies are hoping to extend in their bid for survival.
“The lads know the situation we are in and we wouldn’t have got this far if we hadn’t had some sort of self belief,” added Simkin, whose side are two points adrift of Maidenhead at the foot of the table.
“We’ve got eight games left and, who knows, maybe eight points will be good enough to keep us up.”
Magpies (from): Walker-Harris, Case, Smeeton, McCarthy, N Walker, Jermyn, S Walker, Lanahan, Gleeson, Losasso, Way, Twyford, Chamberlain, Byerley, Munday, Makoni