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REDS boss John Coleman has an injury crisis ahead of Saturday's FA Trophy third round trip to Conference rivals Burton Albion (ko 3pm).

INJURED: Andy Procter
INJURED: Andy Procter

REDS boss John Coleman has an injury crisis ahead of Saturday's FA Trophy third round trip to Conference rivals Burton Albion (ko 3pm).

Both Andy Gouck and Gordon Armstrong have suffered deep gashes - Gouck's is on his knee which he injured during the goalless draw with Colchester in the FA Cup third round on Saturday and he is out for a couple of weeks. And Armstrong hobbled off in Tuesday's 5-2 extra time win over Fleetwood in the Lancashire FA Marsden Trophy and had to have stitches in his shin."I am hopeful with Gordon as he is resilient," said Coleman.

Midfielder Andy Procter is also struggling as he tore his ankle ligaments just two minutes into the FA Cup tie. And defender Steve Halford has been hampered with a knee and groin strain while Jonathan Smith, who tore his knee ligaments over a month ago, is still a week away from returning to action.

"It is a worry," admitted boss John Coleman. "But this is why we have a big squad. If we didn't it would be a disaster. And we can't afford to have many more injuries now."

Coleman, who won the Conference manager of the month for December, is still talking to the league defender he has been chasing over Christmas and is hopeful to have an answer in the next few days. And he is also in talks with a striker, from a Third Division club, initially for a loan spell, and was awaiting a phone call as the Observer went to press. "I don't like naming names until it is done and dusted but we are hopeful," said the boss.

The FA Trophy is important to the Stanley chief who has been to the quarter-finals of the competition as a player and managed Ashton United to the last eight. And the money is much better this year with £4,000 for the winner of a third round tie and £50,000 to the overall winner.

"We want to get to the final and we have the chance to eliminate another Conference side tomorrow," said Coleman. "Games against Burton are usually meaty affairs. They lost to Morecambe last week and will want to bounce back but we shall approach it professionally.

"We beat them earlier in the season and I remember a certain person scoring in the Peter Swailes Shield," joked Coleman, who scored against Burton in the 1-1 draw before Stanley won on penalties in 2002.

And striker Paul Mullin says the lads are up for it despite the fact the games are coming thick and fast. He knows how important the FA Trophy is despite Accrington's fantastic run in the FA Cup.

"I guess the FA Cup is overshadowing it a little bit but this is the equivalent of our FA Cup and it is a trophy we know we can win. We haven't done much in it in the past so it would be nice to do it this year."

Mullin got back into the scoring vein with a hat-trick against Fleetwood on Tuesday night.

"The first one was one yard out and I like them like that!" said the frontman. "I hadn't scored for a couple of games after a good run so it was nice to get off the mark in the new year. We might have taken our eye off the ball a bit against Fleetwood and it might be a good wake-up call for the two games this week."


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