AFC Fylde skipper Alex Whitmore ruled out of Curzon Ashton match

AFC Fylde are hopeful Saturday’s National League North match at Curzon Ashton will go ahead but the Coasters will be without their latest injury casualties Jack Sampson and captain Alex Whitmore.

Friday, 5th November 2021, 8:00 am

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AFC Fylde manager's pride following victory against Gateshead

Ashton-under-Lyne club Curzon have postponed their last three games due to Covid in the camp, though as yet there is no suggestion of tomorrow’s match at Tameside Stadium being called off.

Fylde boss Jim Bentley told The Gazette last night: “I would have gone to watch them on Tuesday but their game against Kidderminster was off.

Alex Whitmore, in the thick of the action at Farsley Celtic two weeks ago, had been an ever-present for AFC Fylde this season

“But we’ve prepared all week for the game to go ahead and have heard no different.”

Those preparations have not included centre-back Whitmore or striker Sampson, who were both forced off injured during last Saturday’s 2-0 home win over Gateshead which maintained Fylde’s four-point lead at the top.

Bentley hopes Sampson will be sidelined for no more than two weeks after jarring a knee but admits the rare injury to ever-present skipper Whitmore is a major blow.

“It’s a bit of a concern because Whits has been excellent for us,” said the Coasters boss. “He’s played every minute of every game and I’ve not known him to be injured when I worked with him at Morecambe or here.”

Whitmore suffered a hamstring problem immediately after an injury to the referee (who could not continue) had caused a lengthy break in play last weekend.

Bentley said: “ Alex is a big player for us and the injury was a really unfortunate one.

“We made the decision to stay out on the pitch and keep moving after the injury to the referee (Gateshead returned to their dressing room). But within seconds (of the resumption), the ball was played behind Alex, he had to sprint, it’s his third game in a week and he gets injured.”

More positive injury news is that Fylde expect both Luke Burke and Liam Nolan to return to training next week.

Bentley’s plans to watch Curzon Ashton in midweek may have been thwarted but he knows the style of their manager Adam Lakeland only too well.

Appointed only last week, Lakeland was in charge of the Farsley Celtic team which inflicted Fylde’s only league defeat of the season a fortnight ago.

“He has not had a game there yet because of the Covid situation,” said Bentley, “but it’s not as if he is going into a struggling side.

“They are going really well (10th but with games in hand on the clubs above). It will be a tough away game against a team looking to pick up where the left off with a very good draw at Spennymoor.”

Fylde were beaten 2-0 at Curzon Ashton last season but quickly gained revenge with a 4-1 win in the FA Trophy.

Bentley said: “That was our first defeat last season and they played really well.

“This season we’ve bounced back from our first defeat with wins over two of our main rivals in Spennymoor and Gateshead.

“They were two good home performances and two clean sheets, so now we go on our travels again with a really positive mindset.”

Squires Gate and AFC Blackpool aim to return to winning ways in the North West Counties League tomorrow.

Gate are only two places above the bottom two in the premier division but would overtake 15th-placed hosts Winsford with a victory.

Blackpool, meanwhile, have slipped out of the play-off spots in first division north but aim to bounce back with a home victory over second-placed Golcar United.

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