INJURY-JINXED Fleetwood Town have suffered another setback with centre-half Youl Mawene breaking a bone in his foot, but there’s at least some light at the end of the tunnel regarding their striker crisis.
Steven Gillespie, one of three Town frontmen to have spent most of November on the treatment table, returns to full training today with a view to facing Aldershot in the FA Cup on Saturday.
The 27-year-old, who lost played over a month ago, has missed the last five League Two matches with a hamstring injury.
And thrilled as he is to be back in contention, he won’t be overdoing it in training today and tomorrow.
Gillespie told the Gazette: “I’ve had a few good days with the physio and I’m hoping that if I can get two good days’ training with the lads under my belt I can be involved at the weekend.
“But last time I tried to train it was maybe a little too soon and I had a setback. The injury was worse than I first thought.”
It was an innocuous injury sustained in training the day before Gillespie was due to play in the home clash with Rotherham.
He explained: “It was a strange injury. I was just going through the motions at the time when I felt a bit of pain.
“I only expected it to be a couple of weeks but it turned out to be a bad one.”
The injury was made all the worse by the timing – Gillespie had needed to be patient following his summer move from Colchester, but had established himself in the side and was starting to show his true form when the injury struck.
Indeed, the former Liverpool trainee had scored in back-to-back games against Wimbledon and Chesterfield.
He added: “That’s the most frustrating thing because goals tend to come in bunches, and I was feeling confident after scoring in consecutive matches.
“I’d had to be patient and wait for my chance but I could have no complaints about that.
“It’s hard to sit on the sidelines and watch, but the lads were winning and scoring goals, so you can’t knock on the manager’s door and tell him he should be picking you.”
To make matters worse, Gillespie’s blow coincided with longer-term setbacks for fellow frontmen Andy Mangan and Jon Parkin.
“Now it’s just unfortunate that we’ve lost two other strikers and Bally (David Ball) has carried the battle himself, but he’s a top player who has just got on with it.”
Manager Micky Mellon is optimistic that Gillespie will be available to ease Ball’s burden this weekend but he warned: “Fingers crossed Steve will have two good days on the training ground, but last time we brought him back into full training he broke down.”
But this time Gillespie feels ready: “Yes, the season has been a bit stop-start so far but I’m hoping to put that to bed now, get back in the side and back among the goals,” he said.
MAWENE faces a month on the sidelines after the break at Dagenham and Redbridge and Town have responded by recalling Rob Atkinson from his loan spell with League Two rivals Accrington.
Mellon said: “We had no option but to bring back Rob back because our defensive options are so limited”.
Despite reports suggesting a gradual return to the first-team frame for Atkinson, Mellon confirmed the 25-year-old will be back in the side at the earliest opportunity.
He told The Gazette: “We’ve definitely brought Rob back to play because Steve McNulty is our only fit centre-half.
“Rob is cup-tie this weekend (he played for Stanley in the first round of the FA Cup at AFC Fylde) but hopefully we’ll have him back for the game against Southend on Saturday week.”