CAPTAIN Craig Jones or midfielder Chris Sedgwick look to be the top candidates to fill in at right-back for the final five games of Bury's season after it emerged Phil Picken had suffered a setback on his return from a knee injury.
With Frederic Veseli returning to Ipswich following a successful three-month loan spell, it was hoped Picken would be ready to step into the breach after being sidelined for almost two seasons.
But manager David Flitcroft revealed the 28-year-old defender fell awkwardly during a reserve team game and was due to undergo tests.
“He has just had a bit of a relapse with his knee and we are getting some assessments done on it,” said the Bury boss.
“We played against Burnley behind closed doors and he just fell awkward.”
Picken was an integral part of the Bury squad that won promotion from League Two in 2011 and helped keep them in League One the following season.
But he ruptured knee ligaments at home to Notts County in September, 2012 and required surgery for a second time after breaking down in a training session during pre-season last summer.
Picken’s latest setback comes at the worst possible time for Bury as Veseli returns to East Anglia.
The former Manchester United defender has played the last 18 matches for the Shakers, helping them to 10 clean sheets and seven victories, the last of which came in his final game at home to Exeter on Saturday.
“There was a standing ovation after the game for Veseli. It was quite emotional, if I’m honest, because the players realise what he has done,” said Flitcroft.
“He’s played a big part in all those clean sheets and I want to publicly thank him for the time he has shared here.
“He’s been part of a real winning format and he should be proud of his performances for Bury Football Club.”
While Flitcroft joked assistant manager Chris Brass was eager to dust off his boots, it seems either Jones or Sedgwick will fill the right-back berth if he chooses to stick with the 4-4-2 system that has seen Bury go unbeaten in their last five matches.
Another alternative would be to switch back to 3-4-3 and recall either Richard Hinds or Nathan Cameron, both centre-backs, to the defence.