Trio return for crunch showdown

Date published: 13 March 2014

ATHLETIC are finding it difficult to bring in fresh blood ahead of the big test at Crewe on Saturday.

But prospects are boosted by the return of three major players to the squad.

Manager Lee Johnson is scouring the market - so far unsuccessfully - to find new players for the game against the club’s relegation rivals.

But Johnson benefits from the return of striker Jonson Clarke-Harris from suspension for a contest which pits Athletic, in 18th place, against a Crewe outfit in 22nd - but only two points behind.

Midfield loan man David Worrall is also back after being ineligible for the game against his parent club Rotherham, and winger James Dayton should have recovered from his knee injury.

Johnson hinted that if more than one loan player does arrive at Boundary Park in the next couple of days, it might mean a reshuffle.

At present, Athletic have four loan players: Mark Oxley, Worrall, John Paul Kissock and Gary Harkins.

“The biggest worry of it all is the loans. You can only play five loan players in one squad,” said Johnson.

“We have four already; if we got three more that would have to change things.”

Teams around Athletic face off against each other on what could be a pivotal weekend at the bottom of the table.

Carlisle, who lost 1-0 to Sheffield United last night, are at home to Stevenage. The Cumbrians are a point adrift of Athletic with a game in hand. Boro are a further point behind, also with a game in hand.

Tranmere, below Stevenage and in the drop zone on goal difference, have the chance to improve against bottom club Notts County.

And the two teams directly above Athletic, Crawley and Colchester, face each other.