Blow for Matlock Town as skipper James Lukic set to miss trip to Chorley
MATLOCK Town skipper James Lukic is set to miss tomorrow's trip to Chorley – but striker Lewis McMahon is well on the road to recovery and could feature for Mark Atkins' side within the next week.
Lukic was carried off on a stretcher as the Gladiators were beaten 2-1 by Witton Albion on Saturday.
He missed the midweek victory over Grantham Town, which Matlock won 2-1 to earn a place in the quarter-final of the Doodson Sport Cup.
Atkins is not expecting the defender to be back in the squad for the Chorley trip. But he had better news with regards top scorer McMahon, who suffered ankle ligament damage in the 4-1 Derbyshire Senior Cup defeat of Borrowash Victoria back in January.
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"Lewis is planning on resuming training again this week and we'll see how things go," said Atkins.
"I'd like to think that we can include him for next Saturday's visit to Hednesford, although that will be the earliest he can return for us.
"With regards James, we're waiting to see how bad his injury is.
"It leaves us down to the bare bones so I may have to see if I can bring someone in. That would, however, add to the wage bill."
Matlock may have to dig deep though after injuries to Will Dennis and Anthony Griffiths-Junior against Grantham.
Atkins said: "We had 10 fit regular players for the game and then picked up a couple more injuries when Will and Anthony got injured.
"It was a shame for Will, who had played very well in the previous game against Witton. Martin Foster had a back strain but wanted to play and was great for us.
"We had three young lads on the bench, which was nice to see, as well as the experienced Ryan Hindley.
"The quality was there and I was pleased that we got the win."
James Travis, who began with the under-19s before progressing to the reserves, replaced Dennis in the 18th minute and gave a man-of-the-match performance.
"It was touch and go whether or not I started with James," said Atkins.
"I didn't really want two inexperienced lads as full-backs but he came on and played exceptionally well.
"He was strong, held his position well and we are all pleased with him. He should be proud of himself.
"He's now part of the first team squad and I know he can do a job there at left-back when needed."
Matlock face a run of four tough league games, starting at Chorley tomorrow but Atkins says the pressure may well be off his side in these fixtures.
"Most people will be expecting us to get beat in these games, given the opposition and our threadbare squad," he said, "but the fact is that we don't feel that way.
"They're tough games the lot of them but, on our day, we can match anyone."