DROITWICH Spa will hope the imminent return of goalgetter Nick Seabourne will be the catalyst to spark a push towards the upper echelon of the Midland League Division Two standings.
The Saltmen have been without last term’s top scorer Seabourne since the opening week of the league season with an ankle injury but he is pencilled in for the home clash with Smithswood Firs tomorrow (Saturday).
Wayne Oliver and Mark Owen’s side have had an injury-hit stuttering start to the season but last weekend’s 3-0 home win against Alcester Town booked Droitwich’s place in the quarter-finals of the Les James Challenge Cup.
And that sends the Saltmen into today’s clash with Smithswood and then next weekend’s fixture with table-toppers NKF Burbage in upbeat mood.
Oliver accepts it will take an amazing run to force their way into the top two – Droitwich lie 15 points behind Leicestershire side Burbage – but he believes a fit and firing squad is capable.
“We are a little bit off the pace at the moment but with winter coming, the heavy pitches, injuries and suspensions there’s still a lot that can happen,” said Oliver. “If we can stay in touch by Christmas, then we can have a push in the new year.
“I don’t think we are out of it. It’s a tall order, a big ask to get into the top two, but I wouldn’t write us off just yet.
“We’ve got a big test against Smithswood who are one of the title favourites. But if we can play like we did against Alcester last week, then we will be OK.
“We’re getting players back now. It’s tough when you lose players who were a big part of last season’s success but we’ve adapted. Getting Nick back fit and playing well will be like a new signing. We have missed his physical strength and his goals. But he says he feels ready and he wants to come back stronger than ever.”
Adam Granger is also back after his honeymoon, but Mike Seeley and Mark Burrows remain on the sidelines.
Last weekend, Louis Bridges sparked the win against Division Three Alcester with two goals at Walshes Meadow.
The striker pounced to convert an Andy Crowther cross inside the first minute and doubled the lead on 10 minutes when Alcester keeper Jack Turner’s clearance rebounded off Bridges into the net.
With Spa keeper Matt Oliver rarely worried by the visitors, Droitwich bagged a third on 71 minutes when Jack Allerton headed home a Brad Burgess corner.
Tuesday’s planned President’s Cup clash with Northfield Town at Walshes Meadow was postponed due a waterlogged pitch. A new date has yet to be confirmed.