PAUL Collicutt admits the first week of pre-season friendlies has brought a measure of ups and downs for Evesham United.
While the Robins manager has seen plenty of positives in the performances in three matches so far, the negatives have been a run of injuries.
After back-to-back wins against Forest Green Rovers and Pershore Town, the Robins suffered a 5-1 defeat to Cheltenham Town.
But the bigger blow was Liam Harding being carried off with an injury which could rule him out for two months, while skipper Matt Sysum, Jake Sloggett, Paul Fahy, Carl Brown and trialist Sam Pearson have also been on the casualty list.
“From last Thursday, I had 22 players available for the first friendly against Forest Green Rovers and now I’m down to 13 or 14 players,” said Collicutt.
“We’ve picked up a few injuries which has been disappointing and we’ve had one or two others missing.”
Playing-wise, Collicutt saw plenty to build on after defeating Forest Green 4-0 last Thursday at the Jubilee Stadium and then securing a 1-0 win at Pershore 24 hours later.
Two first half goals from Lance Smith gave the Robins a perfect start against a youthful Forest Green before summer recruit Paul Fahy marked his first game with a goal and last season’s top scorer Adam Mann chipped in with another.
A mix of first-teamers and youngsters lined up for Evesham at Pershore, with Elliot Kennedy tucking home the 22nd minute winner.
On Tuesday, Cheltenham, who were promoted to League Two as National League champions, fielded two strong line-ups in each half to cruise to victory, with Brown bagging the Robins’ consolation.
“The performance against Forest Green was a pleasant surprise, the way the lads played against strong opposition of a mix of first team and academy players who train full-time was excellent,” said Collicutt.
“Against Pershore, it was a worthwhile opportunity to have a look at five or six of the promising 16 and 17-year-old at the club and they seized their chance. That was a big plus.
“Cheltenham had already been training for the last two or three weeks and they looked very, very sharp against us. It was a tough test.
“The big disappointment was the injury to Liam. He had only been on the pitch for five minutes before he got carried off. He could be out for six to eight weeks which is disappointing.”
Sloggett went over on the same ankle he had earlier twisted in a previous game and will also be doubtful to face Stratford Town at the Jubilee Stadium in tomorrow’s friendly (Saturday, 2pm).
Sysum is also a worry. Having needed 14 stitches in a cut above his eye against Forest Green, the defender has also aggravated a hip injury.
“We thought everything was hunky-dory but now the problem with his hip has flared up,” added Collicutt.
Collicutt will keep tabs on former Hereford striker Pearson, who missed the Cheltenham game through illness.
“The important thing is that the season doesn’t start until August so it’s all about getting everybody fit and to get the team prepared,” he added.
On Tuesday (7.45pm), Evesham welcome Gloucester City to the Jubilee Stadium.