Chester FC: Fixture backlog could cause Jon McCarthy 'big problems'


Charlie Croasdale

CHESTER boss Jon McCarthy admits a hectic fixture schedule could cause him ‘big problems’ over the coming weeks.

The Blues are without a game this weekend due to Lincoln City’s involvement in the FA Cup quarter-final, who are looking to cause the great shock of all time by beating Arsenal, and the rearranged fixture on April 11 is sandwiched into a run of four matches in just nine days for McCarthy’s side.

The Blues manager, who must now prepare for next weekend’s home clash with Eastleigh, believes his squad – which lacks major strength in depth – have been unintentionally ‘punished’ as a result of the switch which he feels could favour the table-topping Imps.

“The break doesn’t suit me, it almost feels like we’ve been punished because of the Lincoln game,” he said.

“The way we’ve had to fit the game in, with them having a great cup run, that’ll cause us some problems and it might not cause Lincoln as many problems because they have a bigger squad.

“I worry about those four games in nine days, if we get away with it and don’t get any injuries, the four games we’ll be alright as other teams have heavy schedueles, but I do think it will cause us a problem.

“On the other side, it gives Tom Shaw and Luke George another week and they might be available for the next game. No excuses though, let’s make it work for us.”

McCarthy lightened the mood by joking he’d text Imps’ boss Danny Cowley stating any other National League achievements would be overshadowed by his side this term, adding: “I text Danny, I said you’re killing us! Do us a favour and have the occassional failure, just once or twice!

“I like them, they’re good people, they work hard and we’d love to achieve something similar here. I’m genuinely delighted for them as people and a club.

“I’m not a hater, so whether it be Wrexham, Tranmere, whoever you are if you work hard then I respect that and they deserve their success.

“Burnley you’d argue would be a tougher game because it’s the same style of play as Lincoln. But that worked for them. This is a complete constrast of styles. Arsenal, at home, if it clicks into gear for them, it could be a long afternoon. But I wish them all the luck in the world.”

McCarthy revealed Craig Mahon is set to miss the rest of the season with an inflamed pelvis which needs two months rest, while James Akintunde remains some way off a first-team return.

He also praised the impact made by new signing Lucas Dawson in the 3-2 defeat to Tranmere.

“Lucas is definitely in the plans, he was around us for a while, we’ve seen something in him, I like the way he passes the ball and it’s better than I’ve seen since I’ve been at this club,” McCarthy continued.

“Other plans have different strengths to him but there’s something there that can make us better. He was competitive and has the hunger we’re after. He drifted out after Stoke, like Heneghan or Alabi, and we’ve allowed them to come back and that desire and drive is there, because the technical stuff is already there.

“James is excited he’s back out there but I don’t think he’ll play if I’m honest, we have to measure his expectations. It was a nasty injury but he’s up and running now.

“It’s been a long time, he started four games and we won every time. When Mahon starts we average 1.74 points per game, and when Akintunde starts we average three points per game, so losing those two has been a massive blow. I’ve missed them for a long time.

“I’m probably with Mahon for the rest of the season too. I want them both here long-term, but they need to be right for next season.

“That’s him done, it was a tough conversation, tough for him to take, but it’s on the advice of the doctors, he needs eight weeks complete rest. We could have the little cameos but we could worsen it and lose him for a whole season.

“It’s a blow now but it’s the right thing for the players and the football club. Hopefully when they are flying at the start of next season, people will realise why we’ve done it.”

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