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Injury Crisis Deepens

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 19/12/2001

LENNIE LAWRENCE has a deepening injury crisis on his hands, following the news that Town's already severely depleted squad may be minus central defender Paul Raven and winger Michael Boulding for Saturday's clash with Preston at Deepdale.

The pair are both doubtful for the tough-looking match against the Lancashire outfit, with Raven suffering from a sore hamstring, and Boulding going down this week with a stomach bug. Although neither player can be definitely ruled out at this stage, if the pair both lose the race against time to be fit, the team will literally pick itself, as there would only be 11 senior players available!

Michael Boulding, Paul Raven, Bradley Allen, Jonny Rowan, Stuart Campbell, John McDermott, Steve Livingstone and Alan Pouton are all currently receiving treatment, and all but the first two are all long-term absentees through injury or illness.

20-year-old defender Simon Ford could be set to make his league debut to slot alongside skipper Paul Groves at the back, in what could be a baptism of fire against a Preston side currently lying 9th in the league, and looking on target for a place in the play-offs at least.

A former Charlton youth team player, Ford was one of a number of youngsters brought in during the summer by Lennie Lawrence, as part of an attempt by Town to strengthen Ford's age group. The Forestgate-born defender has impressed in Paul Wilkinson's high-flying reserves so far this campaign, but has only tasted 11 (albeit victorious) minutes of first team football in his entire career, during a substitute appearance against Lincoln in this season's Worthington Cup.

Lennie Lawrence is still trying to bring in another loan defender, with Fulham's Mark Hudson currently undergoing a two day trial at Blundell Park. "I'm trying to loan one but it's not easy" the Town boss told the Evening Telegraph. "We'll be very lucky to get someone with any experience with Christmas coming up and everybody facing a lot of tough games."

"I've brought a young boy up from Fulham. He's just short of 20, not much older than Simon [Ford] if at all, and he's inexperienced. He's here to train with us this week and we'll see how it goes. I'll be able to get one in but it will only be a youngster with no experience.

"We are either going to be forced into doing something which may, or may not, be right, or we will have to take a chance to get through with what we've got." Lawrence said ominously.



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