Skipper Zander is set to return for Brewers – but it's a tough call for Rowett
BURTON Albion manager Gary Rowett is considering recalling skipper Zander Diamond for tomorrow's home clash with League Two promotion rivals Cheltenham Town.
Diamond recently completed a four-match suspension but had to settle for a place on the bench at Bristol Rovers last weekend, with Albion having won all the games in his absence.
But after a 3-0 defeat at the Memorial Ground, which ended a seven-game unbeaten run, Rowett may choose to bring the central defender back into his starting line-up alongside Ian Sharps or Marcus Holness.
However, the Brewers boss insisted it would be a tough decision to make.
"You could argue that Zander has been our player of the season so far, so there is a temptation to put him back in," said Rowett.
"But I can't say that anyone in the back four was poor at Bristol Rovers.
"I thought the two centre-halves were pretty good, so if I choose to play him (Diamond), it won't be due to somebody else's poor performance, just a decision to put the captain back in.
"Freshening the team up is always a consideration at this stage of the season."
Striker Calvin Zola is also pushing for a starting spot, providing he can shake off a hamstring strain.
"Zander and Calvin are both chomping at the bit and they're in contention," said Rowett.
"Calvin strained his hamstring late on in the Bristol Rovers game after coming off the bench but we're hoping it's not too serious and that he will be able to play some part this weekend.
Defenders Nathan Stanton (knee) and Aaron Webster (hamstring) remain sidelined but there is good news regarding midfield duo Robbie Weir (leg) and Jacques Maghoma (ankle).
"We were worried about both of them after the Bristol Rovers game but they have trained and felt fine this week," Rowett added.
Left-back Damien McCrory, meanwhile, may have to play wearing a "protective splint" after cracking a bone in his hand.
Albion are also expected to complete a deal to extend winger Alex McDonald's loan from Burnley until the end of the season ahead of tomorrow's game.
Cheltenham knocked Burton out of the automatic promotion places with a last-gasp 1-0 win at home to Chesterfield on Tuesday.
Indeed, Rotherham United's 4-0 success at Oxford United lifted them to fourth, pushing Albion down to fifth spot.
However, Burton only trail Cheltenham by two points, with a game in hand.
Rowett's men lost 1-0 at Cheltenham in November but have won their last eight matches at the Pirelli Stadium.
Mark Yates' Robins have only lost once in 12 games but that run has included seven draws.
"I watched them on Tuesday night and it looked like it was heading for a draw before they nicked a late winner," said Rowett.
"That took them up a couple of places, while we have dropped a couple of places after one defeat.
"I think it's going to be like that for the rest of the season now and it will come down to whichever teams keep their heads and get a bit of consistency.
"With 10 games to go, there is a lot of room for change."
Cheltenham's squad includes two former Brewers – midfielder Russ Penn and striker Shaun Harrad, who is on loan from Bury – and ex-Derby County defender in Steve Elliott.
"We're certainly looking forward to the game," said Rowett. "It's going to be really tough as they're going well but after eight wins in a row (at home), we've certainly got nobody to fear at our place.