Dressing room talk of relegation among the players at Fylde rugby club is a taboo topic, according to assistant coach Warren Spragg.
He takes charge of the side in the absence of player-coach Paul Arnold for Saturday’s home clash against fellow strugglers Darlington Mowden Park with both clubs having a battle on their hands to escape from the lower reaches of the National League One table.
Both sides are too close to the relegation-zone for comfort, with Fylde in 12th place and Darlington MP only one place worse off.
Relegation is a possibility for both clubs, but Spragg insisted: “It is not something we talk about.
“If we concentrate on a short-term fix, then we will lose sight of what we are trying to achieve in terms of a long-term structure and a strategy for the future.
“There is still a lot of rugby left to play; the results will come and the league position will change for the better.”
Saturday’s visitors have had a season of vastly varying fortunes. They won four of their first six fixtures, but followed that up with a sequence of six successive defeats.
But they bounced back in their most recent fixture as they defeated Esher 48-31.
That turnaround in fortunes could well have been down to the return of a number of key players from injury.
Fylde will be without winger Anthony Bingham after having an operation on a hand injury. He could now be out of action until after Christmas.
It gives a chance on the wing for James Bailey, who joined Fylde after a prolific record as a tryscorer with junior side Southport.
Ben Vernon has been given a vote of confidence and retains his place in the pack even though Evan Stewart is available again after missing the loss at Old Albanian last Saturday.
Spragg said: “Ben had a fantastic game last week, so he deserves to keep his place. We believe that despite the injuries that we have suffered we are able to put out a very strong team and a pack of forwards capable of taking the game by the scruff of the neck.”
Connor Dever is at scrum-half in the absence of Greg Nicholls, who is unavailable.
There is an outside chance that Oli Brennand, sidelined with a hamstring strain, could make an appearance in the matchday 20. He is making progress and is back in full training, but Spragg says he wants to tread warily with his fitness.
He said “Oli is desperate to play to help the club out, and if we think he is ready then he could take my place on the bench.”
Fylde team: Dorrington; Armstrong, Dowds, Briers, Bailey; Smith, Dever; Griffiths, Burtonwood, Lewis, Nott, Gray, Rogerson, Vernon, Fairbrother. Replacements: Pope, Gregory, Stewart, Lamprey, Spragg.