Bury squad ready for survival run-in
BURY head to the first of back-to-back away matches at Notts County tomorrow with assistant boss Peter Shirtliff confident they now have the squad to finish the season strongly.
With 14 games to go in League One, the Shakers are six points from safety after just two defeats in their last six outings ahead of tomorrow’s live Sky Sports clash.
However, the recent additions of former Premier League forward Craig Fagan and young loanee Jonson Clarke-Harris last week have bolstered the squad for the vital run-in.
Last weekend, manager Kevin Blackwell was able to name a full complement of substitutes for the first time in 2013.
Since the turn of the year, the boss has shipped out eight players – Lateef Elford-Alliyu, Peter Sweeney, Marcus Marshall, Lenell John-Lewis, Andrai Jones, Mark Hughes, Tom Hopper and Efe Sodje – and brought in seven – Stephane Zubar, Ashley Eastham, Carl Regan and Nicky Ajose, as well as Euan Holden, Fagan and Clarke-Harris.
And Shirtliff is satisfied with the squad now in place.
“I think that’s it now – I think this is it until the end of the season,” said Shirtliff.
It is too early to tell whether the squad reshuffle will pay off for Blackwell, but while he has managed to reduce the wage bill, the Bury boss has increased the number of players available and now has around 20 to pick from. The squad also has better balance, with former Hull frontman Fagan lending much-needed support to experienced strikers Andy Bishop and David Healy, while Clarke-Harris and Ajose add creativity from wide.
Zubar and Eastham, along with Regan, looked to have provided a more solid foundation for Bury to launch a survival push, although mistakes in the last two defeats will have to be snuffed out.
The new-look team will, of course, need time to gel, and while games are running out, the real fight for safety will begin once the two remaining matches this month, against promotion hopefuls Notts County and Swindon next Tuesday, have been navigated.
Any points garnered from those fixtures against two managerless sides will be a bonus before Bury’s games against teams around them in the lower reaches of the division.
“That is what will determine our season – results against teams that are in the bottom eight or nine,” added Shirtliff.