Accrington Stanley were hoping to sign defender Nicky Hunt until the end of the season but need to wait for him to recover from his serious head injury before he can play again.
The Rotherham loanee was knocked unconscious during last Saturday’s goalless draw with Plymouth and needed 10 minutes’ treatment on the pitch before coming around in hospital.
He had scans and had to stay overnight after an incident reminiscent of when Stanley’s Tom Bender was knocked unconscious and the Johnstone Paint’s Trophy clash with Tranmere was abandoned in October 2011.
Thankfully, like Bender, it was nothing serious for Hunt – whose month’s loan deal was up on Tuesday – and boss Leam Richardson admitted on Wednesday: “We are hoping to sign him until the end of the season and we are in talks to do that.
“We have been speaking to him about his progress as it depends on the medical staff when he can play again after concussion.
“He can’t remember the game yet and was worried about that but apparently that’s normal.
“The medical staff are monitoring his injury and it is a case of taking it day-by-day but we are confident of having him until the end of the season no matter what.”
Richardson knows that the transfer window – which ended on Thursday night – is not as big for lower league clubs as the loan window is more useful.
That opens again shortly until the end of March and is where he will make most of his signings.
“I have been trying all week to bring people in and we do hope to have a couple of faces by the weekend,” said the Reds boss.
“We would like a couple more bodies but there is no mad rush as the loan window means more to a club like ours.”
The one position Richardson is currently sorting out is the long-term goalkeeper with Ian Dunbavin out until the end of the season.
One-time loanee Paul Rachubka is still trying to sort out a deal to release him from Leeds United so he can sign for the Reds until the end of the season.
But, if it doesn’t happen, Cameron Belford, who has been playing on a week-to-week deal at the Store First Stadium, is also open to offers.
Richardson has also looked further afield and deals he had sorted out for a couple of goalies fell through following injuries to the other keepers at their respective clubs.
“It is a frustrating one as we all want a settled goalkeeper until the end of the season and it’s important to have one in as soon as possible,” said Richardson.
“It’s not fair to Cameron to keep bringing him back week after week and he is one under consideration.”
It doesn’t get any easier for the 19th-placed Reds in their battle to avoid the bottom two spots as they take on second-placed Port Vale on Saturday, who will be out to reclaim top spot.
They have profilic scorer Tom Pope in their ranks – unless he was sold in the transfer window – with 27 goals so far this season and four in his last three matches.
“There have been some freak results in this league this year – Barnet beating Gillingham and Bristol Rovers beating Rotherham to name but two – and we will go into it confident knowing anyone can beat anyone in this league,” said the Reds’ boss.
“We have had the pressure of facing the teams in the lower end of the table with us and there is pressure on us to win this game now.
“We never got out of the traps in games against the likes of Dagenham and Aldershot but the performance on Saturday was good and on reflection we should have won the game.
“But it was a performance we can build on and we did talk all week about going down to Plymouth, putting on a better show, to get down the wings and put more balls into the box and it worked.”
A big boost for the Reds is that striker Padraig Amond is back in training after a groin strain.
“He is a good player who can score goals and having him back will give the other players a lift,” said Richardson.
Three points off the drop zone, the Stanley boss is under no illusions that Micky Adams’ side will provide a tough test for his players, who have won once in 12 League Two games.
He said: “Port Vale are a good team, they have a really good manager, they have good wide players but it’s up to us to use their big pitch well and I am sure we can give them problems too.
“Keeping a clean sheet against Plymouth has helped our confidence.
“We do believe in what we do and always have and we need to add a few more bodies to the squad but are confident going into the next few fixtures.”
It’s a tough month for the Reds with promotion chasers Southend, Exeter and Cheltenham the next three fixtures.
“February is a tough run of games but we have got to build on the point and hopefully add a few more and that’s what we will be looking to do,” said the boss.
“We need wins and there is the pressure we put on ourselves to do this and we have got to remain positive.
“We must remember that we have beaten Port Vale already this season and it will be nice to do the double over them.”