BLAIR HUNTER says Droitwich are in a much-healthier position ahead of Saturday’s crunch clash with Old Halesonians (2.15pm) following a three-week respite.
The Monners were left in a state of disarray in the weeks leading up to their last fixture – a 33-12 home defeat to Ludlow – on February 8, when an injury crisis ruled out the bulk of the first-team squad.
But Droitwich coach Hunter says the club is now in a better state to host their rivals, who are one place above, in the battle between 12th and 13th in the Midlands One West table.
“We’ve been thankful for the few weeks break with the injuries that we’ve had,” he said. “In terms of the numbers of players that are back available, we’re probably at 85 or 90 per cent now, compared to 25 or 30 per cent a few weeks ago.
“So we’re in a much stronger position now after the rest and the recuperation, and thanks to the physios who were having to work overtime.”
While the playing numbers have returned to a healthy level again, the Monners’ preparations for the clash have been disrupted by the recent storms that have blighted clubs up and down the land.
Hunter says that while outdoor training has been a no-go, the club’s coaching staff have found alternative methods to work with the players.
“Training has been extremely difficult for us to navigate,” he added.
“But we’ve been doing different kinds of work – indoor circuits, working on handling, and keeping the players together to step up the preparations.
“We’ve kept off the first-team pitch in the hope that it will dry up, but that all depends if we get a couple of days without rain which hasn’t looked very likely recently. We sympathise with a lot of clubs that have suffered in that respect.”
When Droitwich headed to Wassell Grove in November’s league meeting, Old Hales 20-19 won with a last-minute score and the Monners are expecting a similar close-fought contest this weekend.
“I’m expecting a very tough test in a local derby,” said Hunter.
“The tough conditions will no doubt play a part, so we’re ready for a really big game.
“For us, this is a game that we think and hope we can win.”
If Droitwich are to claim a sixth win of the season, they will have to do it without scrum-half Josh Skinner and hooker Matt Tranter. Skinner remains out with a knee injury, and hooker Matt Tranter is expected to be missing for the rest of the season.