FYLDE RU coach Mark Nelson, euphoric at his team punching way above their weight in National League One, has tempered his enthusiasm for the outstanding achievement by insisting: “We have got away with it this season ... but we won’t next year.”
Nelson says he is justifiably proud that the side stand in third place prior to tomorrow’s trip to Rosslyn Park, but he admitted: “We only have 23 players available (for first-team selection) and that is absurd at this level.
“With injuries we now find ourselves down to the bare bones, just at a time when we have five matches to play – five of the hardest of the season.
“What we have achieved this season is testimony to the work of the players, coaches and management team, but we have been very thin on the ground at training this week.
“We have 30 matches to play in a season, and so many games of such high intensity is really too big a burden for our forwards to bear.
“We want to finish the season well but I am more concerned about next season – we can’t go into it like this.
“Notwithstanding all that, we will go into tomorrow’s match in a very positive frame of mind as we have done all season.
“Though we lost our last match at Coventry, it was a game we could have won.”
After Rosslyn Park, Fylde’s remaining fixtures are at home to Birmingham-Solihull, away to Blackheath, home to second-placed Ealing Trailfinders and finally a visit to leaders Jersey on the final day of the season (April 28).
Nelson said: “Birmingham-Solihulll are fighting for their lives and have recruited players in a bid to try to stay up, while as we take on Ealing and Jersey we could find ourselves in the role of kingmakers.”
Such has been the intensity of the season, Nelson said he was glad for the blank Saturday last weekend.
“The break could not have come at a better time because this time last week we were really struggling,” he said.
As well as long-term injuries, Fylde have suffered another loss of personnel recently with the departure of promising back row forward Cameron Thompson, who has left the country to explore New Zealand.
Paul Arnold has been cleared to play in the second row after a neck injury, for which he has received acupuncture treatment. Fylde include backs Chris Briers and Mike Waywell in their line-up.
The duo were used as replacements when England Counties beat the Ulster Bank International team at Preston Grasshoppers 34-16 last weekend.
Steve Collins has been ruled out with a neck injury, so the fly-half berth goes to Richard Kenyon.
Flanker Steve McGinnis is unavailable.
Fylde (v Rosslyn Park): C Briers; Royle, S Briers, Waywell, Brennand; Kenyon, Depledge; Livesey, Roddam, Griffiths, Arnold, Ferguson, Stewart, Stephenson, S Beaumont. Replacements: Lavelle, Loney, Altham, Wallwork, Viney.
n FYLDE will be bidding for their first win in London for over a decade.
The last time they triumphed in the capital was against tomorrow’s opponents Rosslyn Park – that victory came in December, 2001 when Fylde came out on top by 24-18.