Goalkeeper Grant Smith seems likely to be out of tomorrow’s visit to bottom club Dover Athletic with loan signing Ted Cann expected to fill his gloves.
Manager Darren Sarll said the first-choice keeper had been playing with a groin injury which has kept him out of training ahead of recent matches and the arrival of West Brom youngster Cann provided the opportunity to rest him.
The boss also revealed that captain Luke Wilkinson, who came off in the second half of last weekend’s defeat against Grimsby Town, midfielder Dale Gorman and on loan defender Jack Robinson are all “touch and go” for the weekend.
Speaking about Smith’s injury ahead of the long trip to Kent, Sarll said: “Grant has been carrying a groin injury over the past two or three weeks and it was getting to the point where I thought it was starting to effect his distribution.
“We know Ted from my first season at the club (2019-2020) was available and I thought it was good timing and a chance to make sure Grant could properly recover and rehabilitate his groin.”
He added: “I thought we needed to address the injury Grant has. He’s been spending quite a few games not training and coming in to the games without a full week behind him.
“At this point of the season, Ted was available and he performed really well for us when he was here with us last time when he was only 19 and he played behind an experienced back four – Lee Collins, Luke Wilkinson, Carl Dickinson.
“I thought he handled himself well. He’s a good cross taker, he has good distribution and he’s a good goalkeeper.
“West Brom see this as a real benefit for Ted’s development.”
Cann’s return on a short-term loan was announced on Friday morning and follows a previous spell the 21-year-old has had at National League North strugglers AFC Telford United.
Wilkinson’s calf injury is one of a string of niggles that the defender has been suffering with this season, albeit he has already played six more matches than he managed last season.
When he departed against Grimsby last weekend, Morgan Williams moved in to a back three formation alongside Ben Barclay and Mark Little. Sarll spoke about “experimenting” with formations in what remains of the season, and if Wilkinson misses out at Crabble that could be something we see him try.
Gorman’s injury seems to have been picked up in training during the week whilst Robinson’s is a reoccurrence of the injury which has plagued him this season.
A win at the weekend would confirm the long-awaited relegation of Dover to National League South, but Sarll says his side will not be thinking about anything except their own form.
The Glovers have managed just one National League win since December 18 – the 1-0 success at Woking at the end of January – and have managed just ten goals in that time.
Sarll said: “We have enough to worry about in our own camp, we need to make sure we need to improve our individual and collective performances to get back to what we know we can be.
“It’s been a longer process than when you have the experienced players because (the younger players) have not had the life experience of seeing their way out of these dips in form.
“All these trial and error times are testing for them, but they have to go through this. They will come out of stronger for the experience.”
The manager said the training ground had been “nice and calm” this week with he and his assistant Charlie Lee working with individuals who are out of form.
He added: “We have spent quite a lot of time this week working with individuals and pick aspects of their game and lift them to bring out things we have not seen lately and Charlie’s been excellent with that.
“We want to finish the season strongly, everyone knows how excited I am about this group and how exciting they can be in the long term, but to take care of that long term we have to do something sooner rather than later.
“Tomorrow is another opportunity to do that.“
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