Fylde RFC scrum-half Cam Crampton requires a knee construction and will not play this season.
The number nine sustained the injury in the pre-season win over his former club Sandbach and has since been in consultation with specialists.
Fylde head coach Warren Spragg told The Gazette: “I have spoken to Cam this week. He’s positive and hopes to reclaim his place for next season. That’s the attitude we want because he is a really important player for us.”
In Crampton’s absence, Adam Lanigan has flourished in the number nine role and has formed a fruitful half-back partnership with top pointscorer Greg Smith.
Both of them scored a try in last weekend’s 43-7 victory at Hinckley, Lanigan’s being his first for the club.
Spragg added: “Adam is great and had a good game at Hinckley. We have been a bit harsh on him in training because there were areas he needed to sharpen up and we put pressure on him to do so, but he is quick and brave, and he has really stepped up.”
While the loss of Crampton is a major blow for Fylde, they have been boosted ahead of tomorrow’s home clash with Chester by the unanticipated availability of David Fairbrother.
Expected to be sidelined by work commitments, the key back-rower was a late addition to the replacements’ bench at Hinckley, where he came on for Ben Vernon in the second half.
Spragg said: “We expected David to miss the two games but his circumstances changed, so we made a late change to the bench at Hinckley.
“It’s a tough decision because Ben never lets us down but Fairy has been our outstanding player this season.”
Although the backs shared the tries in Leicestershire last weekend, the whole pack caught Spragg’s eye as Fylde maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a sixth bonus-point win in seven games.
It’s no surprise that spirits are high as Fylde prepare to play in front of their Woodlands supporters tomorrow.
Spragg said: “Jacob Conner had his best game for us but across the forwards everyone is going really well and no-one is underperforming.
“The lads are feeling good. There’s a confidence around the place after another good win and energy levels have been high in training this week.
“Those are the training sessions you really enjoy. People have trust in each other and that’s what you want to see.”
Matt Garrod is again unlikely to feature because of a knee injury but second-placed Fylde are otherwise in good shape to meet a Chester side who finished runners-up in National Two North last season, when they won their first ever league clash at Fylde.
This time around Chester have lost four of their first seven, though their largest losing margin has been eight points – and that came against leaders Caldy.
Spragg said: “They have lost their last two games to late tries and won three in a row before that, so they have not become a bad side.
“They are a strong and dangerous running team, with good steppers. They are not far off and we have to be on our toes.”
Caldy boast the division’s last 100 per cent record and this already looks to be a key week in the title race: the Wirral club visit third-placed Sedgley Park tomorrow and face Fylde seven days later.
“We have to focus on what we can control and actually perform on the day,” said Spragg. “We can’t do anything about the other game.”