Merrill stands by for Diamonds

Joe Merrill is standing by to replace Liam Dolman in AFC Rushden & Diamonds' trip to St Ives Town tonight
Joe Merrill is standing by to replace Liam Dolman in AFC Rushden & Diamonds' trip to St Ives Town tonight
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Joe Merrill looks set to come in for injured Liam Dolman when AFC Rushden & Diamonds head to St Ives Town in the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central tonight (Tuesday, 7.45pm).

Dolman limped out of the season’s opener against Petersfield Town after just 16 minutes with a calf injury.

Merrill, who made 17 appearances for Diamonds last season, is available to replace him at ProEdge Westwood Road after a chest infection ruled him out on Saturday.

Boss Andy Peaks, who is also without Ollie Wilkinson (unavailable) and Richard Bunting (suspended) tonight, said: “Joe is a natural right-back who gives us something going forward as well.

“This is why I wanted a big squad. We have 18 players of equal ability, so when we have players missing we can fill the gaps and it doesn’t weaken us.

“But hopefully we won’t be without Liam for too long.

“He’s a bit special. Not many players at this level can distribute the ball the way Liam can.”

Diamonds coped well without him on Saturday, Wilkinson coming off the bench to play at right-back with Delroy Gordon switched to centre-half.

Gordon went on to get the goal that secured a point for Diamonds in a 1-1 draw.

He was one of four summer signings handed starts for the club last weekend and Peaks said: “They are all feeling their way, but I was pleased with all of them.

“Delroy was solid, he just went out there and did the business, Ollie fitted in well, (Steve) Spriggs looked dangerous when we got the ball to him, (Dan) Quigley was everywhere and Courtney (Herbert) was lively.

“There were a lot of positives to take from Saturday. I felt we controlled most of the game and had the better chances, but the main thing was, we didn’t want to get beaten.

“There wasn’t a lot wrong with how we played, so there won’t be big changes.”

Peaks says he will study a report from St Ives’ 1-1 draw at Kings Langley before deciding his starting line up.

St Ives clinched a point on Saturday with only 10 men after skipper Luke Knight was sent off.