AFC Rushden & Diamonds hope to have key midfielder Richard Bunting back for the ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League Premier Division promotion run-in.
Bunting has been ruled out of the last six games with a hamstring injury.
But boss Andy Peaks says he’s back in full training and, with Adam Confue suspended, he could start at Deeping Rangers tomorrow (Saturday).
Peaks admits Bunting could play a crucial role in what he calls “the business end of the season”.
He said: “Richard trained last week and if he comes through this week’s sessions, there’s no reason why we won’t throw him in.
“Richard has been there and done it before. He knows what it takes to win this division and players like him, Russ Dunkley and Tom Berwick will be crucial in the business end of the season.
“We’ve got a young team and the more experienced players can help them through.”
Peaks was disappointed that last week’s game at Sileby Rangers was washed out.
But his side’s promotion hopes were boosted by Holbeach United losing 3-2 at home to Cogenhoe United.
Yaxley took advantage to move into second place.
But Peaks insists he isn’t thinking too much about how Diamonds’ promotion rivals are faring.
Holbeach can still go top if they win their games in hand, but Peaks said: “I like to have the points on the board. It puts pressure on the teams below us.
“But really, it’s all about us picking up as many points as we can and maintaining our position at the top.
“Holbeach dropped points last weekend, but I’d rather not think about that. It’s all down to us going out there and winning football matches.”
Deeping had a six-game unbeaten run snapped by last week’s 2-1 defeat at home to Boston Town and Peaks has an idea of what to expect this weekend.
He said: “I had Deeping watched at Wellingborough and they are a young, enthusiastic side who know how to keep the ball.”
Wellingborough Town joint-boss Joe Smyth has given his side a massive vote of confidence going into the clash with second-placed Yaxley at the Dog & Duck.
For the Doughboys, the match is their first since their 6-0 humbling at AFC Kempston Rovers and Smyth says he “expects a response”.
He’s set to hand midfielder Aynsley McDonald his debut in what he describes as “the perfect match to show everyone what we’re made of.”
Smyth added: “We have a huge amount of confidence in these lads. We have a group who have tremendous spirit and if we perform to the best of our ability, we will give anyone a game.
“But we can’t have bad days and we had one at Kempston.
“We did have some players drop out, but that’s no excuse. We didn’t turn up and we got what we deserved.
“We have spoken to the lads and we expect a response from them on Saturday.
“Yaxley are an excellent team and will probably finish in the top three or four this season.
“We can’t afford another bad day against them.”
“We knew it would be a difficult job here working under the restrictions we are working under. This is a tough league and our objective when we came here was to stay up.
“We still need to pick up points to do that.”
Desborough Town go into a tough spell of games with confidence high, according to boss Ian Walker.
Ar Tarn are without a game this weekend and are back in action at Boston United a week on Saturday.
That kick-starts a tough run-in to the end of the season for a side beaten 3-1 at title contenders Yaxley last week.
He said: “We want to finish the season on a high, but we’ve still got to play all the top-six sides and that’s tough.
“But we can take heart from Saturday.
“We have had some hammerings this season, but Yaxley are a good team and it gives us confidence to know we competed against them.
“We have troubled two good sides in Yaxley and Peterborough North Star. We came away with one point from the two games but, on chances created, we probably deserved more.
“If we weren’t creating chances I would be worried, but we are and we just need a break or two in front of goal.”