Source: Derby Telegraph
IT is a Matlock Town side missing several first-team players who manager Mark Atkins will take to FC United of Manchester tomorrow.
The Gladiators' catalogue of injuries began even before the first game, when central defender Laurence Gaughan tore his hamstring, leading to a potential eight weeks on the sidelines.
Full-back Micky Harcourt was forced off after 20 minutes in the 5-0 defeat by Nantwich Town with a foot injury, then X-rays revealed that substitute Ben Algar had a broken metatarsal.
Midfielder James Ashmore lasted only eight minutes at Frickley Athletic on Tuesday before being carried off with ankle ligament damage and faces a couple of months' lay-off.
"Thank goodness we've got a big squad because it looks like we'll need it," said Atkins.
"That's why I brought all the lads in that I did, particularly with the hectic start to the season.
"We've also got Kris Bowler with a rib injury, Lewis McMahon has a bad ankle and Joe Leesley an Achilles knock."
Gareth Davies and Nathan Joynes will be added to the squad for tomorrow's trip to Gigg Lane and the home fixture against Rushall Olympic on Bank Holiday Monday (3pm).
Both opponents have 100% records after the opening two games, while Tuesday's 2-1 success at Frickley Athletic, achieved when late goals, from McMahon, from the penalty spot, and Leesley, overturned a deficit and saw Matlock leap from bottom to eleventh place.
"FC United will be up there," said Atkins.
"They're a very good side and will probably be in the play-offs – if they don't win the league.
"The big question is, can we handle them defensively and can we also create and take enough opportunities to hurt them?
"Rushall, meanwhile, had a very good first season at this level. They're strong and very well organised so it'll be another tough one for us."
Last Saturday's hammering by Nantwich is still in the thoughts of Atkins and his side, who are keen to erase the memories of Matlock's worst opening day at home since joining the Northern Premier League in 1969-70.
"We got exactly what we deserved," he said.
"Nantwich were by miles the better side but we weren't at the races.
"Of the 14 players we used, I wasn't happy with any one of them.
"There was no determination, no thought to our play, just long balls to their centre-halves. It was a very poor performance."