Town’s injury concerns finally starting to heal

HATTERS manager Gary Brabin can finally see the end of the tunnel regarding the injury crisis that has robbed him of four of his most experienced defenders this season, writes Mike Simmonds.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 9th September 2011, 2:35 pm

George Pilkington, Shane Blackett, Freddie Murray and Dan Gleeson have made just one appearance between them all campaign, with Gleeson playing 34 minutes in the 1-1 draw at Mansfield last month.

Speaking to this press this morning, Brabin confirmed all four are in the process of stepping up their training regimes and shouldn’t be too far off a return to the first team squad.

He said: “It’s probably been the best week of news we’ve had on this.

“We haven’t been trying to cover anything up on this it just has been, certainly with the George Pilkington one, we just never thought it would last this long.

“We’ve had numerous scans and numerous consultants and they’ve had to nail down what the problem is and we’re hopeful that we’ve finally nailed that down and that with the right treatment he might be back training with us within the week.

“The same could be said of Shane Blackett. He stepped up his training a week ago and has stepped it up again since.

“We’re expecting him to be with the group full time within the next seven days. Freddie Murray’s the same. He’s now had all clear to step up his training and the same with Dan Gleeson.

“We’re waiting on results, but we’re hopeful he can step up his training so it could be the best week regarding injury problems. I want to have my group of players ready so I can pick my strongest XI with a bench that I think is good enough to come on and give us a reaction as well.”

Although neither of the quartet are expected to be ready for Saturday’s visit of Darlington, Brabin was hopeful both Dean Beckwith, who played for the reserves this week, and Jake Howells will be available.

He continued: “Dean had a virus last week and hadn’t done anything since the weekend. He’s a big lad and I thought it was important he keeps playing games.

“Jake’s trained the last two days so will be itching for a place in the squad.”

Whether Brabin opts to change the central defensive pairing of Will Antwi and captain Keith Keane is another matter though with the duo excelling in Friday night’s 1-1 draw at Stockport County.

The boss said: “Keith Keane is really comfortable there. It’s something we’ve always spoken about that he’s comfortable at centre half, centre midfield or full back.

“We know he can play anywhere, we’ve asked him to do a job and I thought he was outstanding.

“It was arguably the best he’s game had since I’ve been here, I thought both him and Will’s performance certainly deserved a clean sheet.

“I think if you take him out of the midfield, there’s a void there where we haven’t got that type of midfield player. It’s something we have searched for, but its not an easy position to fill.”

One player who might not make this weekend’s clash is striker Collin Samuel though. The Trinidad & Tobago international signed on transfer deadline day and played for the reserves in midweek, but is still slightly short of match fitness.

Brabin said: “He’s got a good base fitness, but in terms of match fitness, he’s still a little bit off at the moment.

“He was training with St Johnstone and I think he just felt at this stage of his career he wanted the opportunity to come here.

“He knew he was coming to give us that little bit of experience and if we can get him up to scratch in the next week or two. He’s certainly available for selection, but I’d just like to get him that little bit fitter.

“He needs to get a couple of games under his belt as that reserve game on Tuesday was his first 90 minutes of the season.”