DAVID Flitcroft must have feared the worst as Blackburn defender Lee Williamson launched himself at Bury’s star summer signing Ryan Lowe midway through Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw at the JD Stadium.
The 35-year-old striker was flattened by the waist high tackle and stayed down holding his side for a good few minutes after Williamson had left the pitch, after being shown a straight red card.
Thankfully, Lowe eventually made it to his feet and was able to complete the full 90 minutes of the friendly.
But with no strikers on the bench and only 36-year-old Clive Platt in reserve, Flitcroft is praying both Lowe and Wednesday night’s goalscorer Danny Nardiello make it through tomorrow’s final game of the pre-season campaign at home to Rochdale.
“All players want to play 90 minutes but it is important as a management team to get them through a pre-season,” he said after the final whistle.
“You want to see the blood on Lowey’s shorts - they have been mashed. The tackle was as high a tackle as I have ever seen in a game.
“While you want to build your pre-season so it is tough, you don’t want to get too many injuries.
“We are really light in terms of squad numbers and we have got to make sure that we get these players to the starting line against Cheltenham.”
With that in mind, Flitcroft may be forced to rest a few key players tomorrow.
Nardiello, who has scored five in his last three games, is struggling with a virus, while Lowe has figured in most of Bury’s major pre-season fixtures so could take a back seat against Keith Hill’s side.
And while the Shakers boss remains focused on getting his side into prime condition in time for the big kick-off against Cheltenham next Saturday, he admits there is still a lot of work to be done away from the training field.
“These games aren’t just about preparing the team for Cheltenham, they are about preparing a squad for 46 games,” he added, as he bids to add at least four fresh faces to a first-team squad of just 18 players.
“We are really light in numbers and while we are on the training ground we will obviously be searching and looking and trying to recruit players because recruitment will be a big part of this campaign.”
Former Tranmere midfielder Joe Thompson was given another 20 minutes against Blackburn to prove his fitness as he bids to earn a contract following his recovery from cancer.
And former Ipswich and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Devann Yao came on for the final 10 minutes after the trialist impressed during the club’s recent training camp in Tenerife.
But there was no sign of former Barnsley and Celtic winger Paddy McCourt, who also made the trip to Spain.