ALEX Sykes may be without three key players when Bishop's Cleeve welcome high-flying Poole Town tonight.
The loss of Gloucester City loan pair Sam Rawlings and Matt Liddiard to FA Cup duty would be costly enough, but Sykes may have to contend with the absence of red-hot striker Carl Brown.
Brown netted his fourth goal in two games in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Clevedon Town, before being involved in a minor traffic accident later in the evening.
Mercifully he escaped with just a couple of bumps and bruises and Sykes only rates him as 'doubtful' for the visit of the Dolphins (7.30pm).
But having bagged a hat-trick against former club Cirencester Town and also netted in Saturday's draw, Brown's loss would be a significant blow.
"It was vital that we followed up the cracking win at Cirencester with another good performance at Clevedon," Sykes said.
"Mickey Bell has done a really good job down there and they have some top players like Scott Murray in the squad.
"We were disappointed not to have taken all three points, but we're happy enough with one.
"Unfortunately we go into one of the toughest games of the season against one of the favourites for the league without a number of key players.
"Carl Brown was involved in an accident on Saturday and he's still a bit sore, he's okay thankfully but he's got a painful back.
"And we're without the two Gloucester lads as they'll be involved in their FA Cup game and that's a shame as they've been instrumental in those two games for us."
The task has been made harder as Poole are still reaping the benefits of a large playing budget because of windfall payments from the sale of Burnley hot-shot Charlie Austin.
They currently sit in third place in the Evo-Stik League Southern Division One South and West table, but like Cleeve they have games in hand on their rivals.
"If rumours are to be believed then Poole are favourites for the league for a reason, given their budget," Sykes said.
"But we're in decent form and although were without a few, we have decent competition for places and other players will now have their chance.
"Now it's a case of sticking together and keeping to our game plan and looking to get some points on the board.
"We have quite a lot of games coming up – our games in hand – and it's time for us to be picking up points and getting to the right end of the table.
"We know it's going to be really difficult against Poole but if we can come out of the game with a positive result, it should set us up nicely for the coming busy weeks."
Cleeve are at home again on Saturday when Abingdon United are the visitors to Kayte Lane.