Nelson rues Freak blow

Stephen Briers
Stephen Briers
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FYLDE coach Mark Nelson can’t hide his frustration over the “freak injury” which has ruled Steven Briers out of tomorrow’s trip to Macclesfield (3pm) and could sideline the threequarter for several weeks.

Briers sustained an ankle injury when he tripped over a prone team-mate in training and missed last weekend’s much-needed return to winning ways against Tynedale.

Hopes of a speedy recovery have been dashed this week and Nelson couldn’t hide his frustration over a serious injury occurring in such an inocuous way.

He told The Gazette: “Steven is waiting on the results of a scan but we are not hopeful for a quick recovery.

“This injury was a complete freak – we don’t do any contact in training – and it’s hard for a player to come to terms with missing a few weeks to this sort of injury. Training ground injuries are the worst.”

The news with fellow ankle victim Steve McGinnis is much more encouraging. The back-rower was forced off injured in the 39-28 win over Tynedale but is expected to take the field at Priory Park tomorrow.

Nelson explained: “Openside flanker is one of the key positions at this level. Evan Stewart went there when we lost Steve but it does cause disruption.”

Not too much, however, as Stewart scored four of Fylde’s six tries, a perfect warm-up for tomorrow’s return to the club he left to join Fylde in the summer.

Nelson added: “Evan’s return to his former club adds spice to the game, especially as he was their captain.

“But this will be a challenge for all of us because Macclesfield is always a tough place to go.

“They have lost two at home and will want to restore pride in their home record.”

The season has so far followed a similar pattern for both clubs. A hugely promising start by both was followed by a run of three successive defeats.

But whereas Fylde stopped the rot against Tynedale last weekend, Macc lost narrowly at Coventry.

Fylde’s win was far from their most convincing, however, with a 28-point lead whittled down to eight at one point.

Nelson reiterated that McGinnis’ exit was a key factor, but added: “We did play some really good rugby and they came back into it. At this level, you can’t expect teams to give up and Tynedale certainly didn’t. We always thought each game would be very demanding from first whistle to last.

Fylde and Macc have met 14 times in the league and have won seven each, though Fylde have triumphed on the last four occasions.

While Nelson weighs up his options to replace the injured Briers on the right wing, the rest of the team has been selected.

One definite change from last week’s side is the return of prop Pete Altham, who impressed with the seconds last weekend. He replaces Alistair Livesey, who has linked up with Malta national side.

Fylde: Royle, ANO, C Briers, Waywell, Brennand, Kenyon, Wallwork; Altham, Roddam, Loney, Rawlings, Arnold, Stewart, McGinnis, Beaumont; replacements: Griffiths, Lavelle, Ferguson, Collins, Depledge.