The impending return of injured duo Wes Parker and Lewis Putman will be vital in Wealdstone’s push for the Ryman Premier title, according to manager Gordon Bartlett.
Parker underwent a hernia operation in December, while it has been a long road to fitness for Putman, who has been out since the start of the season with a serious knee injury.
Having joined the Stones in August 2010, club captain Parker is a real cornerstone of Bartlett’s side and his manager has missed the defender’s leadership and strength in defence.
He has been back in training in the last couple of weeks and was set to feature for the reserves on Wednesday as he enters the final stages of his recovery.
“Wes has been skipper of the side but he’s been out for the last three months,” Bartlett said.
“We haven’t done badly without him, but having someone of his quality and experience coming back will be a massive boost. We’re looking for him to take part in a reserve game this week.
“We’ll see how it goes. He’ll be brought back slowly, but I think by the end of the month he should be close to a return.”
Having played for Grimsby Town in the Football League, Parker is an experienced head in the Wealdstone dressing room.
The centre-back is not afraid to make himself heard on the pitch and Bartlett hopes his Grosvenor Vale comeback will see things tighten up at the back.
“Maybe we’ve been a bit too open [in Wes’s absence] but if you keep playing well and performing like we have done, you’ll win more games than you lose,” he said. “It’s small margins. We need to tighten things up and work harder. The lads know it and we’ve got to get back to how we were playing.”
Putman will not be far behind Parker in swapping the treatment table for the turf.
The youngster was prolific at Oxhey Jets, but a horror injury suffered in a pre-season friendly against Hayes & Yeading has kept Stones’ fans on tenterhooks.
“He’s not been able to train,” Bartlett said.
“I would imagine he might take part in a warm-up at a game soon, but we’re not looking at him until the middle of February. Once we get Lewis and Wes back it will be like having two new players in the side and that will leave us in good stead for the run-in.”
Wealdstone’s match with Billericay Town was postponed on Saturday. Bartlett’s men take on Bury Town this weekend before locking horns with Lowestoft Town on Tuesday night.
Another side thwarted by the rain again this week was Combined Counties Premier team Wembley, whose games at Cove and Farnham Town were postponed.
They will hope for better weather before they travel to Frimley Green on Saturday.