Injury woes continue to plague Crows boss

Paul Attfield keen to strengthen defensive options

ROYSTON TOWN boss Paul Attfield admits he cannot wait for the season to start on August 18, when his side travel to Thatcham Town in their maiden fixture in the Evo-Stik Southern Central Division, but says he needs to get a fit squad together first.

A depleted Crows followed up Saturday’s 2-0 win over last season’s Kent Premier League champions and FA Vase semi-finalists Herne Bay with a 2-0 reverse at home to Evo-Stik Premier Division side Cambridge City on Tuesday. And while he admits his team were below their best against the Lilywhites, Attfield says the result didn’t surprise or concern him.

“Last season I think we only won two of our pre-season games and then went on to win the league and a cup as well, so there is only so much notice I take of pre-season games,” Attfield told the Royston Crow. “As long as the players get what they need out of it fitness-wise then that’s all that matters.

“You don’t really learn a lot from pre-season, but the next 10 days will be useful as it gives us time to get players back and ready for the opening game.”

Attfield has spoken of his frustration so far this summer that so many of his players have been hit by niggling injuries, which have prevented him from fielding the players he’d have liked during Town’s eight outings so far.

“We’ve just been hit by some freakish injuries this summer. Most are nothing more than little niggles but it’s really strange that so many have been forced out. The intensity of the games has been no different to previous years so it’s a strange one,” he said.

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“It was understandable that we struggled a little bit on Tuesday as it takes time for players to gel, and we were missing quite a few regular first-team players which didn’t help.”

A trio of triallists have featured for Royston in the last two matches – defenders Joe Delasalle and Jonny Butler, as well as midfielder Ollie Cleaver – and Attfield says he has been particularly impressed with Delaselle, who played for Herts Senior County Premier League side Letchworth Garden City Eagles last season, and has hinted he may take him on.

Last season’s outstanding centre-half John McGrandles is out indefinitely due to a knee injury, and Attfield says he is keen to strengthen in that area.

“I’m still deciding on what players to take on,” said Attfield. “I like Joe, he has impressed me and he has had two decent games for us considering he hasn’t played much and is about three or four weeks behind the others, but he is one I will look to take on.

“I’m still unsure about the others, but it’s difficult because we only took them on last week and we haven’t been able to get everyone together due to injuries, holidays and everything else.

“I’m sure that come August 18 for our first game of the season we will have everyone back fit and ready to go.”

Royston will face Evo-Stik Premier Division side St Albans City on Saturday at Garden Walk in the Herts Charity Cup. Saints manager David Howell has announced that former Premier League star Barry Hayles is set to lead the line for the Saints, but Attfield – who joked that if Hayles could get a game then he might even consider getting his boots on this Saturday himself – says his priority remains the opening day of the season.

“It’s a competitive game but it’s not a priority for us,” he added. “So whether St Albans bring their first, reserve or youth team down it doesn’t really bother me. I will have players back on Saturday including Martin Standen, Ross Collins and Carl Edwards, so I would expect us to be a lot better than we were against Cambridge City.”

The match kicks off at Garden Walk at 3pm.